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Paid employment and the changing system of gender relations: a cross-national comparison
Equality with men in the world of paid work has been a major feminist objective. Given that work in the `public' sphere has historically been shaped on the assumption that the `worker' will be male, then national employment systems which facilitate masculine employment patterns (i.e. full-time work and unbroken employment careers) might be expected to be more likely to generate gender equality. This paper compares women's employment in France (where `masculine' careers for women are common) and Britain (where part-time work and broken employment careers are more likely) at the macro, meso (occupational), and micro (individual) levels. The two occupations studied are finance and pharmacy. The evidence presented suggests that there are considerable similarities between women in the two countries at the occupational and individual level, despite national variations. In the light of this evidence, structural and individual explanations of women's employment behaviour are examined, and the continuing significance of structural constraint on the patterning of gender relations is emphasised.
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