Published Papers - Abstract 122

Wicks D, Mishra G & Milne L. Young women, work and inequality: Is it what they want or what they get? An Australian contribution to research on women and workforce participation. , 2001; :

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health was established to track the health of three age cohorts of Australian women - 40,000 in total - over a 20 year period. It provides opportunities for research into health and related issues for women. In this paper, we investigate (1) baseline data from the young cohort of 1400 survey participants and (2) follow up in-depth interview data from a small sample of 100 of the original respondents. The focus of the paper is on the aspirations of young women (aged 18-23) for work, their ideal job, relationships (including children) and further education, particularly in the context of gender inequality in labour markets.Proceedings from the British Sociological Association Conference: 2001. Globalisation and Social CapitalThrough an analysis of the data, we look at the extent to which gender inequalities are the result of free choices and preferences and to what extent they are conditioned by socio-economic structures and processes that reproduce inequalities over time. This issue is further explored through a classification of women by socio-economic status. In this way, we can analyse the gender dimension of labour market inequality in general as well as the relationship of gender inequality to class inequality in the areas of work, work choice and the ability to combine work and family responsibilities.Analysis of the two data sets sheds light on debates about women’s workforce participation as well as establishing baseline data for future research on the options chosen and available for this group of young women. The information will have significance for policy debates in several areas, including those concerned with worker entitlements, childcare, access to higher education and workforce planning. More particularly, it makes a significant contribution to current debates about women’s alleged preference for part-time rather than full-time work.

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