Returning to Work
There is extensive literature on women and employment which is largely based on census data and official employment statistics. It provides a cross-sectional, aggregated picture of the overall position of women in the labour market detailing the familiar picture of the concentration of women in low-paid, unskilled jobs and their segregation in a comparatively smaller number of industries1. The focus is on outcomes rather than processes. A further characteristic of this literature is that aggregated figures, whether regional or national, hide the variations in local markets both in the number and type of jobs available for women and in the relative balance between employment opportunities for men and for women. These differences have been considerable in the past, and remain so today; they are significant because of the immobility of most women workers2. It is hard to see how the relationship between paid employment and domestic responsibilities can be investigated without relating the employment of women to the development and organisation of industry in a given labour market, but, in general, this approach has not been followed in the sociological literature on women and work.
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