Sociology Index

SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOUR

Sexual division of labour is the allocation of work task, either in the private household or in the public economy, on the basis of the sex of the person. The sexual division of labour is related to stereotyping.

Under Sexual division of labour women may cook the meals and men wash the dishes, or women may perform caring roles such as nursing or social work in the public economy, while men perform the tasks of driving trucks, fighting fires, or manufacturing goods.

Most societies have had sexual division of labour. Although the expression 'sexual division of labour' seems to have survived criticism from social scientists it is actually incorrect.

The division of labour between the sexes is chiefly gendered: it is based on cultural practices rather than any inherent suitability of either sex to perform specific roles. Compared with the mid-1980s, there has been a massive change in attitudes towards sexual division of labour regarding who does what within the family, argues researcher Dr Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics.

The Sexual Division of Labour in Feudal England
Christopher Middleton
The creation of a political economy of sexual divisions has undoubtedly been one of the most significant intellectual outcomes of the recent feminist revival. The call in the early seventies for the development of an historical and materialist (though not always Marxist) account of sexual division, oppression and conflict met with an immediate and enthusiastic response, so that the last few years have seen the emergence of a prolific literature exploring the articulation of capitalism with the sexual division of labour and its attendant relations of sexual authority and subordination. Attention has been drawn to the home as a centre of production as well as of consumption, socialization and psychological retreat; and the question of reproduction, in all its senses, is now a central concern of many Marxist studies of the workings of capitalism.

Attitudes on the sexual division of labour are changing
Traditional views that men should bring home the bacon and women stay at home to cook it are diminishing in popularity, according to a new study of attitudes towards the sexual division of labour in the family.

Women, health and the sexual division of labour : a case study of the women's health movement in Britain - Lesley Doyal
Abstract: The women's health movement in Britain can be divided into three main stages. During the first period, most activities took place outside the National Health Service with the emphasis on women as consumers of medical care. Feminists exposed the sexism inherent in most medical practice and stressed the need for women to gain control of reproductive technology.