As technology evolves, we'll all need to rethink what we do. But the question is particularly pressing for menby Mark Brown / October 26, 2017 / Leave a comment
In the UK, work is a way in which we have come to define our identity. In those opening awkward british shufflings of conversation we rarely ask people what it is they care about or enjoy. We always fall back upon the staple of “so, what do you do?”
We also still carry strongly gendered ideas about what constitutes work and what the value of that work is. There’s work and there is “raising a family.” Even in the home, as Theresa May so famous explained, there are “boys jobs and girls jobs.”
What’s more, a recent study by What Works Centre for Wellbeing found how we think of our work identity changes how we feel when we lose our job. This differs between men and women. The study took data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study covering 2009-2014 and found, adjusting for the financial and other effects of job loss, overall that men reported a greater drop in life satisfaction than women when they became unemployed.
So far, so stereotypical. The What Works Centre for Wellbeing research, though, found something more interesting.
They measured attitudes to gender, work and family by looking at responses to questions such as “A pre-school child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works,” “Both the husband and wife should contribute to the household income” and “A husband’s job is to earn money; a wife’s job is to look after the home and family.”
They found men’s attitude towards gender roles had little effect on their level of life satisfaction on finding themselves out of work.
In contrast, women with more egalitarian views on gender, especially those who were mothers or women in heterosexual couples, experienced a greater drop in life satisfaction than men when they became unemployed. Women with less egalitarian, more traditional, views on gender roles experienced a slight increase in life satisfaction when they became unemployed.
The study found that men with a stronger work identity reported a smaller drop in life satisfaction on becoming unemployed, while work identity didn’t have a positive influence on the life satisfaction of either women with egalitarian or ‘traditional’ views when they lost their jobs.