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Gender Issues in Care Work in Europe. Claire Cameron and Peter Moss Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. EC funded 2001 - 2005 6 Partners Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and UK Main objective

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gender issues in care work in europe

Gender Issues in Care Work in Europe

Claire Cameron and Peter Moss

Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London

care work in europe
EC funded 2001 - 2005

6 Partners

Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and UK

Main objective

to contribute to the development of good quality employment in care work in services that are responsive to needs of changing societies

Care Work in Europe
doing the study
Mapping the care workforce; surveying use and demand for care services; reviewing literature on quality, job satisfaction and gender issues

Three cross-national case studies of work:

with young children (HU, DK, SP);

with older people (SW, ENG, SP + HU);

with adults with severe disabilities (DK, NE, SW)

Development ofvideo-based method for cross-national study of practice in care work (SOPHOS)

3. Innovative practice (36 examples); dissemination

Doing the study
profile of care workers
Highly gendered (% women highest with children and elderly)

Mostly 25-44 (like total workforce) - but no information on % with own care responsibilities

Often (not always) low paid

Mostly specialist

Career prospects usually limited – vertically and horizontally

Profile of care workers
the danish pedagogue
High level of education

Less gendered – 25% male in some services

Better pay (and other conditions)

Generalist - work with people from 0 to 100; main worker with children, young people and younger adults

Broad career prospects - vertical and horizontal

The Danish pedagogue
gender of care workers
LFS for DK, ES, SE & UK: between 86% and 99% of workers with elderly people and with very young children are women.

More male workers with older children and adults

Very few with elderly people or very young children

Same pattern but higher proportion of male workers in Denmark – up to ¼

Gender of care workers
male workers in cwe
Case study of work with young children 2/36 (2 DK, 0 HU, 0 ES)

Case study with people with severe disabilities 12/43 (6 DK, 2 SE, 4 N)

Case study of work with elderly people 12/54 (5 SE, 4 EN, 3 ES)

Male workers in CWE
national policies
England: target of 6% as part of childcare diversity targets – dropped in favour of ‘more diversity’

Norway: target of 20% preschool teachers recently reaffirmed

Local initiatives in Belgium, Scotland, England, Norway, Denmark

National policies
Low salaries are not attractive to men?

Care work is ‘naturally’ ‘women’s work’?

Education and employment assume women students and workers

what do care workers say about gender issues
A matter of choice for clients/ service users

A matter of assisting women workers

A matter of gender equality in workplaces

A matter of improving/challenging the kind of ‘care’ on offer

What do care workers say about gender issues?
a matter of choice
For elderly people and their personal care

To extend the repertoire of conversation to include ‘male’ interests

For people with disabilities to meet and be together, to have staff role models of btoh genders

A matter of choice
a matter of assisting women workers
Looking after technical equipment

Using their physical strength to lift, or deal with confused or aggressive people

A matter of assisting women workers
a matter of gender equality in workplaces
Longstanding discourse of equality in DK, SE

Also a matter of diversity – more minority ethnic workers needed too

A matter of gender equality in workplaces
barriers to change
Male care workers are ‘unmanly’

Female workers are ‘natural’

Care work does not pay enough for a family wage

No specific strategies to promote male workers in elder care or adult care

Barriers to change?
a matter of recognizing difference
Men have a higher threshold

Men do something else

Men have a different kind of energy

Adjust the way work is done

A matter of recognizing difference?
It’s great. I think we should have men. They do something else. When I playfootball with the boys, which I seldom do because it doesn’t interest me, I find ithard. So it’s completely different when X [male assistant] does it. He’s a bigjoker. There’s no one can make a fire like him. You can get sissy fires, but hisfires are definitely macho ones.
I imagine it could be quite horrible (to be the only male worker)…We aresupposed to have two so that at least they can keep each other company alittle…But we are also women and the way we try and work around that is by alsotaking on some of those things. By me climbing trees too. Well, the last time wewent out in the woods, about 14 days ago, we were out to catch tadpoles. Welldidn’t I crawl out on to the tree trunk out over the lake!…I suddenly noticed avery quiet audience of children at the [lake] edge. I think that they simply beganto feel nervous because, if I fell in, what would happen to them?
a matter of following stereotypes
Men are more business like, women deal in tenderness

Or perhaps

Men who go into care work are different?

They cite their professional competencies

They have ‘soft’ values – need to be caring, are ‘special people’

A matter of following stereotypes?
a matter of individual difference
Adult security more important than gender difference

You cannot generalize about men and women – need to be versatile and an all-rounder

A matter of individual difference?
what changes can be made
Sustained, funded localised initiatives seem to be working

Ask not what keeps women in but what keeps men out?

Adjust organisation and content of training programmes, re-examine content of work, local networks to avoid isolation

What changes can be made?
further reading
Cameron, C., Moss, P and Owen, C. (1999) Men in the Nursery: Gender and caring work, Paul Chapman

Care work in Europe website

Briefing paper

Introducing pedagogy into the children’s workforce

Rolfe, H. (2005) Men in Childcare:

Further Reading