Master's Theses

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology

Keywords

Caregiving, Gender, Work-life

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to understand how men and women differ in how they handle the division of caregiving for aging parents and children and work responsibilities. Previous literature states that gender differences in caregiving exist due to the structure of the workforce and family. The workforce is often inflexible concerning employees’ personal schedules and is more welcoming for individuals who do not have to compromise career with family responsibilities. Often, one spouse must curtail his or her career to make time for child or parent care. Care work is typically seen as a “feminine” job and often pushed upon women. Previous research suggests that as a result, women may face more stress and burden managing work and care responsibilities. I analyze eight public meetings held by care professionals and community members, twenty self-help texts about caregiving, and interviews with seventeen men and women who are providing care for their parents, and in some cases, children, in the New York metro area. My interviews suggest that while women do take on a majority of child care work, there is very little difference in how men and women experience parent care. Although women are more likely to be primary caregivers of parents, both males and females are likely to experience increased tension at work and at home, curtail career opportunities, and struggle with feelings of guilt and fear. Although care is often considered to be a “female” role, the men that I interviewed did not express discomfort with fulfilling care roles. While previous research and popular literature suggest that individuals view balancing work and care as a personal problem, my research suggests that these difficulties are structural in nature and occur due to gendered expectations about family life, a lack of flexible family-friendly work policies, and insufficient state support for affordable health care.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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