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. Sexual division of labour between genders is generally believed to be ordered by society. Studies on the sexual division of labor have been conducted on hunter-gatherer society of Tanzania. Even now in India, Boys and girls are brought up to believe that the main responsibility of women is household work and bringing up children.

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

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.

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.

Baxter, J. (1988). The sexual division of labour in Australian families. Australian Journal of Sex, Marriage & Family, 9(2), 87-93.
Abstract: Investigated whether housework is primarily women's work despite increasing numbers of married women in the paid workforce and the image of equal sharing between husband and wife in the home. It is argued that it is still possible to clearly identify a sexual division of labor in the home. Men's participation is largely confined to outdoor tasks and leisure activities with children, while women are still largely responsible for the bulk of household chores. The analysis suggested that attitudes to sex roles had little impact on the division of domestic tasks.

Women and the Sexual Division of Labour in the Caribbean, 31 Jul 1997 - by Keith Hart (Editor).
"Women and the Sexual Division of Labour in the Caribbean" is a report of a series of seminars held in 1987. It consists of a broad essay in evolutionary anthropology, a review of labour market theories, an application of general theory to the social history of the sexual division of labour in Trinidad and Tobago.