Tensions Caused by Paid Labour

Women’s paid labour compounds the problems caused by their unpaid labour.  Today many women are participating in wage labour in addition to keeping homes, raising children, and caring for relatives.

Sociology professor Melody Hessing’s article “Talking Shop(ping): Office Conversations and Women’s Dual Labour” uses interviews with women employed in clerical work to explore the ways in which they bridge or separate their paid commitments from their unpaid ones.  She suggests that women in the workforce are at risk of being ‘devalued’ by their commitments to home and family: many women refrain from talking about their domestic duties for fear of being held back from getting raises or promotions.  Furthermore, women may be required to physically leave the office during work hours or make phone-calls home to take care of family members.

While the domestic sphere values nurturing behaviour, the paid sphere values efficiency.  These values come into conflict as frequent absences or making personal calls to deal with family responsibilities are often considered poor work ethic by coworkers and supervisors.  Women are forced to make a choice between remaining committed to their domestic role and appropriately filling their paid labour force role.


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