chapter  4
37 Pages

Women Union Leaders: Infl uences, Routes, Barriers and Enablements


The scene for American and British trade union leaders has been set. The women who are the key subjects of this book were introduced in Chapter 1 (this volume).We now begin the analysis of the women’s experiences and lives. Overall we explored a wide range of themes that encouraged the women’s refl ection on personal histories of union activism: (a) the nature of union work; (b) attitudes towards unions and their policies and practices; (c) perceptions about union work-costs and opportunities; (d) impact of union involvement on home life and vice versa; (e) being a woman activist/leader; (f) views on unions’ gender equality strategies; (g) views on union leadership in an everyday and a conceptual sense. The focus groups concentrated on two main themes: being a woman union activist/leader and views on unions’ gender equality strategies. This chapter begins the book’s analysis of union women’s experiences and lives; it does this by exploring fi rst the routes women take to union leadership and the work they do, and second the interface between the women’s home-work lives and the barriers and opportunities they face. Chapters 5-9 (this volume) explore the remaining themes.