Gender and library work: The limitations of dual labour market theory
Women have a long history of engagement in economically productive work. Not only have they produced goods and services for the family’s own consumption; they also have a long tradition of working for pay outside the home. The growth in the female labour force in the twentieth century needs, therefore, to be seen as a continuation of the long term process of the incorporation of increasing numbers of women into paid employment and not as a distinct change in the pattern of women’s productive work. However, the terms on which women participate in the labour force remain a considerable problem for women, one that gains in importance as the female labour force continues to expand. The differences in the earnings and conditions of employment for women and men are intimately related to their differing patterns of participation in the labour force over their lifetimes. Whereas those men who are employed tend to participate in the labour force on a full-time basis throughout their lifetime, women’s place in the labour force is characterized by a bi-modal pattern of participation over the lifetime, with a break in employment for childbirth and the early years of child rearing, and a return to predominantly part-time employment thereafter. Women’s employment is also segregated, both horizontally, in a limited number of occupations, and vertically, so that the majority of women are employed at the bottom of the career ladder.