For most of the growing number of women who go out to work, organising childcare for young children is a highly complicated process in which the slightest disruption is likely to cause a crisis, according to new research sponsored by the ESRC.
Among big city-dwellers, pre-school arrangements - even for the most affluent households - involve careful scheduling in time and travel, typically using three or four different types of regular care, says the study, led at University College, London, by Professor Linda McDowell. For many families, jobs have become increasingly insecure, temporary or casual, and the hours demanded have either increased or become less regular in terms of day and night shifts and the working week, says the report. The growing dominance of low-paid service sector work makes it increasingly difficult to have reasonable living standards from a single wage, so forcing many working class couples to have two or more jobs in order to survive.
This study examined, among other things, who does what in the home when both partners are working. And it investigated how childcare is arranged and managed if parents work shifts. Focussing on younger families in two major centres – London and Manchester – the study found that while men are getting more involved in domestic tasks, in most cases it is still women who bear the brunt. And it is mostly women who sort out the details of how they and their children get to and from various workplaces, schools, social services, play areas and other often widely-spread sites.
Becky Gammon | EurekAlert!
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