Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2002


Gender and Comparative Employment Systems

Lecturer: Professor Jill Rubery
Manchester School of Management, UMIST, UK
Dates: 5. - 9. August 2002


Objectives
The objective of the course is to introduce students to two areas of study- the changing patterns of gender relations and the comparative analysis of employment systems- and to develop their understanding of the interrelationship between these two areas. The subjects are important in their own right; changing gender relations is one of the most persistent, significant and widespread change in social and economic arrangements since the second world war and the pace of change is not showing any tendency to reduce. Employment has become a key area of policy analysis, owing to increasing concerns about the growing inactive populations and the need to expand and retain a high employment rate. At the same time there are major concerns over the future of work- its quantity, quality, stability and distribution.

The main focus of this course will not be on exploring all the literature on either gender or employment but rather on their interrelationships. It has slowly been dawning upon policymakers in Europe that their employment policy agenda cannot be fulfilled without addressing gender issues; however these are still considered in a piecemeal or ad hoc way. The introduction of gender into the analysis of employment systems immediately requires a more holistic analysis, to include the organisation of unpaid or caring work as well as paid work and to include the arrangements for the social reproduction of the labour force and not simply the organisation of employment.

This holistic approach is consistent with the notion of gender mainstreaming of policy, agreed upon at the Beijing world conference on women in 1995. The introduction of gender also focuses attention on how the labour market itself is gendered and the role of gender in past and current processes of restructuring at the macro and workplace level. In developing this course the course lecturer is able to draw on a wide range of research and policy work in each of these areas and their interconnections. The course will draw in particular on the following bases of knowledge:

  1. The approach to the role of gender in the restructuring of labour markets draws on three main theoretical contributions by the lecturer. First gender has been integrated into segmented labour market theory (Craig et al. 1981); second the impact of recession and restructuring on women's employment has been analysed in a comparative book (Rubery 1988); and thirdly the interrelations between social reproduction and the production sphere have been theorised, with social reproduction regarded as 'relatively autonomous to the production sphere (Humphries and Rubery 1984).
  2. The differences in gender equality across advanced countries has been related to differences in the employment regimes, following the societal effect school of analysis. The lecturer has undertaken research in all the key areas of gender inequality- pay, segregation, flexibility, care systems- and related these to differences in employment regimes and employment systems (Rubery et al. 1999).
  3. The lecturer is currently the coordinator of the European Commission's expert group on gender and employment and is directly involved in assessing the development of gender mainstreaming within the European employment strategy. The importance of developing an holistic approach to employment policy ahs been identified (Rubery et al. 2001). The website with all the reports on gender mainstreaming will be available for students to seek information on specific countries as well as for the EU as a whole.


Outline of Lectures

Lecture 1: Gender and Comparative Labour Market Systems
This introductory session will introduce students to the interrelations between employment systems on the one hand and gender relations or gender regimes on the other. The focus will be on both the role of gender in the restructuring of employment systems in OECD countries and on the role of gender in shaping differences between OECD employment systems. The importance of understanding gender issues for employment policy will be underlined.

Readings:


Lecture 2: Issues in Comparative Research Methodology
The lecture will introduce students to different approaches and perspectives in comparative research methodology. The relative merits of universalist, culturalist and societal effect approaches for comparative employment research will be addressed. The possibilities for and problems of incorporating gender issues into comparative methodologies will be explored.

Readings:


Lecture 3: Welfare State Regimes and Gender
This session focuses on the attempt to typologise welfare regimes and the critique of the initial typologies from a gender perspective. Attention will be paid to current developments in welfare regimes, gender relations and employment systems which may be increasing the mismatch between the principles underpinning the welfare regime and the dominant form of family organisation and labour market participation patterns.

Readings:


Lecture 4: Changing Household Regimes and the Rise of the Dual Participant Household
The rise of the dual earner family and the consequent decline of the male sole-breadwinner family is the subject of this session. This rise of the dual earner family will be shown to be a common trend across Europe. However within this common trend there are major differences in the form of dual earner partnership developing across Europe. The conditions for a successful transition to a more gender equal society will be considered.

Readings:


Lecture 5: Gender Pay Discrimination and Comparative Systems of Pay Determination
This session will compare and contrast different theories of gender pay discrimination. Special attention will be paid to the role of systems of wage determination, including minimum wage systems and collective bargaining arrangements in shaping the level and form of gender pay discrimination. Future prospects for gender pay equality will be considered.

Readings:


Lecture 6: Gender Segregation
The subject for this session is the causes of gender segregation, the problem of measuring gender segregation and the consequence of gender segregation for gender equality. The presumption that gender equality requires the same pattern of occupational distribution will be considered and contrasted with the view that gender difference but based on equal value would be a more appropriate goal. Case studies of occupational desegregation will be introduced, to address the issue of how desegregation may result in new processes of occupational restructuring and resegregation.

Readings:


Lecture 7: Time, Flexibility and Gender Inequality
Gender differences in time use and time constraints can be considered to lie at the heart of gender inequalities in employment. Gender equality requires unpaid as well as paid work time to be taken into account; the possibilities of considering all forms of work within a common analytical framework will be explored. This session also analyses how these gender time differences have underpinned gendered patterns of employment restructuring and resulted in gendered forms of flexibility. The impact of the societal systems in modifying, reinforcing and shaping these gendered patterns will also be considered.

Readings:


Lecture 8: Equal Opportunities Policy at the Workplace
This session explores what progress has so far been made in achieving equal opportunities within the workplace and what barriers to improvement still remain. The issues to be covered include: the role of organisational culture and organisational design in promoting or reducing equal opportunities; the effectiveness and implications of affirmative action policies; the 'business case' for organisations introducing equal opportunities policies; the likelihood of and effectiveness of resistance to equal opportunities policies. Different societal approaches to workplace based initiatives, including different depress of reliance on voluntary initiatives by employers will be considered.

Readings:


Lecture 9: Gender Mainstreaming and the European Employment Strategy
Equal opportunities policy has been incorporated as the fourth pillar of the European employment strategy. This commitment to gender equality is being consolidated by the requirement for member states to gender mainstream all employment policy areas. This session explores the development of, and definitions of, the concept of gender mainstreaming; the need for gender mainstreaming if the European employment objectives are to be achieved; and the progress to date in incorporating gender mainstreaming into the European employment strategy. Reference to the role of gender budgeting in non European countries will also be made.

Readings:


Lecture 10: The Short and the Long Agenda for Gender Equality Policies
This session explores the prospects for gender equality within the European Union in the context of factors likely to promote gender equality on the one hand (the commitment to gender mainstreaming, the rise of the dual earner household, the increasing share of women among the highly educated) and factors which may hinder progress on the other (the deregulation and restructuring of labour markets, the reform of welfare states, the changes to public sector employment). The question of political commitment to the radical transformation of societal structures implied by both gender mainstreaming and gender equality policy is considered. Prospects for gender equality are also considered alongside other aspects of equality including in particular class and race.

Readings:


The lecturer
Jill Rubery is Professor of Comparative Employment Systems and joined Manchester School of Management in 1989, having previously worked for many years at the Department of Applied Economics at Cambridge University, where she had been a fellow of New Hall and Director of Studies in Economics. She was appointed to a Chair at UMIST in 1995. Professor Rubery has been involved in a large number of research projects, sponsored by the ESRC, the Equal Opportunities Commission, and the European Commission amongst others.

Her research work and publications have covered, amongst other topics, labour market regulation policies and the role of minimum wages; new forms of work and flexibility; women's employment and women's pay; employers' working-time policies; and international comparative labour market analyses. Professor Rubery's other activities include editing a journal with Professor David Knights Gender, Work and Organisation and acting as an arbitrator as a member of the ACAS Board of Arbitrators.

From 1991 to 1996 and again from 1998 she has acted as co-ordinator of the European Commission's group of experts on gender and employment. She has also worked as the UK member of the group of experts. Her recent publications include: Women's Employment in Europe: Trends and Prospects (Routledge 1999), Equal Pay in Europe (Macmillan 1998), Women and European Employment (Routledge 1998) and The Economics of Equal Opportunities (Equal Opportunities Commission 1995).