Women and trade unionism : the effect of gender on propensity to unionise and participation in trade union activity
Women workers, typically, are disadvantaged in the workplace and in the trade union movement. In an attempt to explain the relationship of female employees to the unions, this thesis investigates the significance of gender for an employee's involvement in trade unionism. The importance of the sex variable for both the individual's union membership choice and rate of participation in trade union activity is explored. The aim of the study is to reach a much better understanding of the most important influences on women's position in the unions, and thereby provide some insight into the apparent failure of the trade union movement to gain equality for women with men in the employment sphere. Chapters two and three depict women's situation in the workplace and in the trade unions, in order to illustrate the importance of the study. Chapters four and five present a theoretical framework for the empirical analyses, discussed in chapters six to nine, concerning influences on the employee's propensity to unionise and union participation. Both crosstabulations and discriminant analyses are employed to establish the most important determinants of these two variables. Influences on the worker's attitudes to trade unionism are also discussed. Chapters ten and eleven present the results of a survey of nine large trade unions, conducted in an attempt to account for the inadequacies of the independent variables used in the quantitative analyses to explain fully the relationships explored. The thesis concludes that the lower level of involvement of women workers in trade unionism may be explained mainly in terms of differences between the sexes in hours worked, earnings and industrial relations traditions in male and female-dominated work. Also, however, significantly lower favourability to trade unions expressed by the women workers is found to contribute to the male/female union membership and union participation differentials. The thesis argues, in chapter twelve, that this apparent difference in satisfaction with trade unions between the men and women studied is, most probably, a result of traditional union culture, particularly the male-domination of the unions, and the unequal position of women in the trade union movement.