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Women and Work in Ireland


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Table of Contents

1. Background and Introduction

2. Method

3. Social-Psychological Predictors of Employment Status of Married Women

4. Effects of Housework vs. Employment on Married Women's Well-being

5. Denial of Discrimination? Attitudinal and Other Barriers to Women's Equal Participation in the Workplace

6. Attitudes to Childcare and the Evolution of Childcare Policy

7. Work-Life Balance and Well-being

8. Implications for Men, Gender Relations and Social Policy

About the Author

Margret Fine-Davis is Senior Research Fellow (Emerita), Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin. Her research focuses on changing gender-role attitudes and social-psychological and policy issues related to women's employment in Ireland and Europe. Her books include Gender Roles in Ireland: Three Decades of Attitude Change (Routledge, 2015) and Changing Gender Roles and Attitudes to Family Formation in Ireland (Manchester University Press, 2016).


"Over the last half century social scientists throughout the Western world have studied women's participation in the paid labor force, along with its antecedents, correlates, and consequences. In this exemplary monograph, one of Ireland's leading scholars focuses the spotlight on her adopted country, Eire, sharing with us both the methods and the findings of five decades of meticulous survey research."

Faye J. Crosby, Distinguished Professor of Psychology Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz "In this fascinating book, M. Fine-Davis, a top scholar in the field of European social policies, brilliantly demonstrates how and why women's roles and status have so dramatically been changing in Ireland from the 1970s onwards. She adopts a systemic approach and underlines the catalytic effect of EU membership and the key role played by the women's movement. Based on a rich set of data, this book also provides a rigorous analysis of how social attitudes, trends in women's labour force participation and developing social policy intersected. In the end, a must-read book for academics and their students working in these fields." Jeanne Fagnani, Emeritus Senior Research Fellow, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS-University of Paris 1, Sorbonne) "This book tells a well-evidenced story of five decades of change in women's participation in the Irish labour force, from the 1970s onwards, and unpacks the ramifications for workplace discrimination, women's well-being, childcare and the division of labour. It provides a fascinating case study of how Irish social policy plays catch-up with changing behaviours and attitudes and demonstrates Ireland's ongoing, albeit uneven, progress in casting off the patriarchal legacy that limits equality for women and work." Jacqueline Scott, Emerita Professor of Empirical Sociology, University of Cambridge "Drawing on an extensive range of data, Margret Fine-Davis rigorously examines the evidence as regards continuities and changes in attitudes, patterns and policies around women and paid work in Ireland from the 1970s to the present day, locating these in an international context. There have been many welcome changes (not least the ending of the Marriage Bar in the 1970s). But this book also documents disquieting continuities including an inadequate child care system and substantial inequalities in the distribution of domestic tasks and child care: such continuities being very much in evidence in the COVID-19 situation." Pat O'Connor, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Limerick and Visiting Professor, Geary Institute, University College Dublin

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