Work Changes Gender

Towards a new organization of men’s lives – emerging forms of work and opportunities for gender equality 

Work Changes Gender is a 3-years research project supported by the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Community and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMB).

The aim of this research is to improve our understanding of the structural changes that take place in European society, especially the new forms of work and their impact on gender equality. The study shall describe the differentiated effect that new forms of work may have on the genders and define the best collective and organizational strategies for dealing with this change. The research will pay special attention to the importance that discontinuity plays today in labour markets, whether in terms of temporary work contracts or part-time jobs. It will try to determine the “best” ways of individually coping for men, for gender equality and quality of life.

Description of the project

An interdisciplinary team of different European regions - Norway, Spain, Austria, Israel, Bulgaria and Germany - will run the research from Sep 2001 to Aug.2004.

With a first step the team will determine the influence of new forms of work on gender differentiation. It will check the impact of gender differences in the labour force participation rates, the distribution on the different forms of work and unemployment rates.

In a second step the research-team will clarify the institutional and organizational context of men’s changes from two main angles. By shifting the focus to institutions and organizations, it will identify new institutional patterns that may have positive effects both on the equal status of the genders and on working life. These institutional patterns will include new and viable forms of work, especially new forms of work organization and new labour market adaptations. The aim is to determine factors playing a central role in defining ‘what changes men’ and to describe their features.

A third step contains a review of the various ways in which men cope with the growing frequency of discontinuous courses of employment. Connections between organisational/ institutional structural conditions, individual background variables and self-concepts shall be identified, particularly describe the framework for self-concepts leading to contentedness in the change.

Expected results

The research team starts with the hypothesis, that improving gender equality, the quality of life and the contentedness of individuals during such a transition will foster economic and social cohesion.

The present may suggest that particularly men are developing a new culture in dealing with work and private life. There will be transitions in co-habitation and marriage, changes, that seem to be welcome in the terms of gender relationship. On the other hand the cause, that hegemonic men concentrate even more on the job, and that the gender division home/ job get institutionalized again. As well contradictory will be the effect of changing in working life on the individuals. New masculinities will get more common, but the masculinity of successful businessmen and managers still will concentrate in the hegemonic positions of our cultures.

For the national and European social- and labour market politics it is important to realize the potentialities in combining the steering of the labour market and a policy that foster a better quality of life for men and women in a changing world. The research team will spread according policy recommendations and perspectives in conferences, consultations and literature and internet.

Work Changes Gender
is a research project  in cooperation of:

Brief Report