Explaining Women's Employment Patterns in the Local Context: The Role of Education and Local Care Policies in Terrassa (Spain)

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:50 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Lluis FLAQUER , Department of Sociology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Valles, Spain
Almudena MORENO MINGUEZ , Department of Sociology and Social Work, University of Valladolid, Segovia, Spain
Anna ESCOBEDO , Department of Sociology and Organisational Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Fernando ANTON ALONSO , Sociology, University Autonoma of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Empirical research into the factors determining female employment has given rise to a lot of interpretations regarding the cultural, institutional and individual effects on  women’s employment patterns in different countries based on the analysis of individual characteristics and the effects of macro conditions  (Del Boca et al., 2009; Fortin, 2005; Hakim, 2004; Crompton and Lyonette, 2005; Pettit and Hook, 2005). However, very few studies have set out to combine both macro and micro perspectives by using discourse analysis to explore the heterogeneity of women’s employment patterns over the family life course in different local contexts and among different groups of women (Steiber and Haas, 2012). In this regard, some studies have thrown doubt on whether institutional and cultural factors have the same effect on women’s employment patterns in different contexts (Pfau-Effinger, 2004).

In the context of challenges posed by different work-family arrangements, using a multidimensional approach and as part of the European FLOWS FP7 research project, this paper examines variations across different groups of women in the way that contextual factors shape their labour supply. In particular, we propose to analyse from a qualitative methodological perspective how women’s education partly explains differential patterns with respect to employment, work-family balance and access to family help in the city of Terrassa (Spain). The analysis is based on information drawn from focus groups with different categories of women. Qualitative analysis is supplemented by the results of a survey conducted locally providing evidence of the relationship between employment and use of formal and informal care. The initial hypothesis is that women’s employment patterns over the family life course are closely linked to preferences regarding jobs and the family, with education and the local care system playing a key role as both a mediating and differentiating factor in the formation of these preferences and values.