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Title: Women's employment & the ghetto thesis : experiences of secretarial work in three European countries
Author: Truss, Catherine Jennifer Gwendolen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3536 8735
Awarding Body: University of London: London Business School
Current Institution: London Business School (University of London)
Date of Award: 1992
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According to the sociological literature, many women's occupations, including secretarial work, can be described as 'ghetto jobs'. However, no research has been carried out to test whether this theory fully applies to secretarial work. Moreover, no cross-national comparisons of secretaries have been undertaken, despite the fact that cross-national research has highlighted important differences in patterns of women's work, which have added significant insights into theoretical analyses of women's employment. This thesis aims to fill this gap, using an exploratory, case-study approach within a cross-national methodology that allows the interrelationship of variables at the macro, micro and individual levels to highlight differences in national employment patternings for secretaries. Companies in three countries were sampled within two sectors, publishing and consultancy. The main case-studies were carried out within one multi-national publishing and one consultancy firm, to keep task and organisation variables constant. These took the form of a questionnaire survey to all secretarial staff, and interviews with a number of secretaries, bosses and personnel officers. These cases were supplemented by a questionnaire survey in a number of indigenous publishing and consultancy companies. A total of 185 questionnaires were received and 61 interviews carried out. The findings concerning secretarial work as a ghetto occupation are mixed. It was found that constructions of secretarial work differ across the countries, and these differences are related to patterns of women's employment at the national level. Thus, where women's employment most closely resembles that of men, then fewer domestic tasks are carried out by secretaries in the workplace. This calls into question structural theories of gender segregation in the labour market based on women's `suitability' to certain types of work. Overall, however, the contention that women are not readily mobile out of ghetto occupations is upheld in the case of secretarial work.
Supervisor: Goffee, Rob ; Jones, Gareth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Employment ; Women ; Office services