Gender, employment and the life course : the case of working daughters in Amman, Jordan
This thesis addresses two main gaps within social science research: the relative neglect of the household within general labour market theories and the relative neglect of the impact of life course changes in approaches to female labour force participation. In empirical terms, nowhere is the later gap more clear than the current research on female employment in the Middle East. Therefore, this thesis aims to identify changing female employment patterns in Jordan with particular reference to young single urban women. Unlike previous generations, women currently marry at a later age, have relatively high education levels and have access to expanding employment opportunities. The result is that women are experiencing a new life course trajectory: single employed adulthood. Given that Jordanian society has traditionally been based on rigid gender and generation hierarchies, the study explores the implications of the new trends at two main and inter-related levels: the workplace and the household. The research methodology utilises both quantitative and qualitative tools and consists of an employer survey of 36 private sector institutions, a questionnaire survey of 302 households, and a sub-sample of 40 semi-structured interviews with young women. At the workplace level it explores the bases of gender differentiated recruitment and occupational segregation and how this structures young women's work opportunities. At the household level the investigation assesses the characteristics that are likely to influence young female labour supply and considers inter-generational patterns of household income management. Synthesising these perspectives, the research then goes on to explore the ways in which normative patriarchal relations are responding to young women's prolonged single adulthood as well as young women's perceptions of their work. One of the main findings of the research is that single adulthood may have expanded opportunities and the aspirational horizon for some young women but it had not brought about a significant redistribution of either power relations or gender divisions in society at large.