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Title: The gender landscape of the Taiwanese public-sector labour market
Author: Chung, Wei-Yun
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 5168
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines the interplay between gender, family, and the Taiwanese public-sector labour market at national, local, and individual levels. It focuses on gendered occupational segregation, worker mobility in terms of job transfers and promotion, everyday work–life arrangements, and the influence of locality on workplace dynamics and individuals’ career moves. The public sector, especially that in East Asian countries, has long been regarded as a more women-friendly employer that promotes gender equality in the public sphere. Nonetheless, relevant research lacks a systematic investigation into the interplay of gender, social norms, and structured opportunities and constraints in this labour market. Therefore, I conducted this research by analysing governmental statistics and carrying out interviews. My research shows that gender segregation exists in the Taiwanese public sector and women are still underrepresented at senior levels, although the Taiwanese government has launched many measures to achieve gender equality in the public-sector labour market. It further scrutinises how the career trajectories of male and female civil servants differ because of gendered task assignment at work and gendered expectation after marriage, which restrain women’s mobility in spatial and career terms. Through the comparison of the experience of the civil servants working in three regions, I point out that locality influences the formation and function of social networks, work culture, and familial power relations. I also explain how local networking, work culture, and family relationships correlate with one another and thus implicitly influence the career development of male and female civil servants in the researched regions. In addition, my discussion looks at how extended family members influence household gender dynamics, which is seldom discussed in existing literature. There are three main findings in my research. First, prevalent gender norms in the wider societal context play an important role in the gendering process of civil servants’ career trajectories. Gendered investment in human capital contributes to gendered occupational choices and the tendency of men to start their civil service career at higher entry levels. Second, gender segregation exists in the assignment allocation, which is the result of prevalent gender stereotyping at work and in return reinforces the existing gender stereotypes. Third, the career plans of married civil servants, especially those with children, are highly determined by the interplay of gender dynamics at home and at work. Mothers tend to have the most limited career choices. Different family structures and local work cultures constitute diverse local settings for these mothers. In general, women who live close to or with their husbands’ extended families tend to prioritise their family commitments, although their extended family members provide them with resources and support, such as childcare. My research theorises back from the East Asian context to the literature on gender and families by unveiling multiple forms of patriarchy in different family structures, whereas previous Western-focused research has often focused on nuclear families. My research also suggests that the interlocking relationship between home and workplace gender relations and the influence of locality on these relations should be carefully considered during policy making and implementation.
Supervisor: Gray, Mia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: gender division of labour ; gender relations in East Asian context ; Taiwan ; public-sector labour market