Do women "not needing to work" but happily taking low paid term time jobs affect women's pay

(52 Posts)
kim147 Sun 16-Jun-13 23:12:41

There's a thread on chat about TAs at the moment. TA jobs in school are poorly paid but they do suit childcare arrangements.

Several people have said that they are well qualified but happily take these jobs despite the low pay because they "don't really need the money" but it is convenient for childcare.

If it's a skilled job requiring good education, shouldn't it be rewarded?
Or is the issue that employers know such jobs are sought after because it's very handy for childcare so they can pay shit and know there will be applicants.

badguider Thu 20-Jun-13 10:33:54

The 'lower earner' in a relationship may not be less successful or less established in their career - they may just be in a different field.

I work in a job that 'makes a difference', I do it because I love it and I'm very good at it. I have won awards and am well known in my field. I am very successful.
I earn about 2/3 of what my DH earns in a corporate/professional industry where he's done reasonably well and gained promotion to director level but is not outstanding (his job doesn't really allow for outstanding individuals).

I know that in our case DH was exposed to old-fashioned ideas from his estranged father about what makes a "man's-job" and what "success" looks like at an early age and chose his degree to lead to his current profession which he tolerates. He is motivated by his salary because the job itself is a bit of a grind. I was encouraged to follow my interests and dreams, I don't mind earning a bit less (still a reasonable salary) because I love the process and outcomes of what I do.

I suspect we are not alone in that our division of motivation between money vs. job/life satisfaction is along gendered lines... and I see TAs as being on the job/life satisfaction of the fence. Maybe there are lots of men who would love to be on our side of the fence but they don't feel they can be as it's 'not manly'.. so they're as trapped as the women who want to be the main breadwinners are.

ShakingSultana Thu 20-Jun-13 09:32:00

kim147 I understood what you meant by the thread title. It is a very interesting area, especially considering some of the other factors people have mentioned alongside salary such as hours, flexibility, being near the children etc.

As someone said upthread, this problem comes about when the lower earner (usually the woman) sacrifices their career for the family. Why are women usually the lower earners in the first place? Do women tend to marry people with a higher earning power, or could it be that women tend to be the younger partner in a relationship and therefore less established in their career compared to their partner?

Such a terrible shame that work in education isn't valued properly.

BadSkiingMum Thu 20-Jun-13 07:23:48

It is also interesting to think about the patterns around volunteering.

The national breastfeeding support organisations largely rely on trained volunteers, to support on what is perceived as a women's issue, but yet which affects male and female people as babies.

Also the idea that: woman largely at home = woman who is happy to work for no pay.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Wed 19-Jun-13 23:06:55

It's not just TAs, is it? Plenty of education jobs have rotten pay. They know they have people over a barrel.

(Look at these for example - some of them don't even pay, and you'd need 7 years of training minimum after 18 to get one: www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2012-13/weekly/6294/section12.shtml

So I do think focussing on TAs being low paid is missing a bigger point about education jobs and about how little you can afford to pay people if you know they will compete for it.

NotDead Wed 19-Jun-13 23:05:21

just a point btw about applications expressing demand.There I a falsehood that you maximise ypur chances of getting a job by appapplying at thr lowest level. The government via the jobcentre an employment services ans SERCO perpetuate this myth.. well actuallythey enforce application below yyour saleble level and insist you apply at thr bottom.. thereby decreasing your likelihood of being employed.

This is one reason people apply to be TAs when really they should be applying to private schools as part time teachers or applying for something more educational outside thr classroom..but few employers have jobs that fit so exactly with school hours..or more accuratelythat people can easily imagine fit with schoolhours. I fact late night work, macdonalds et al, some banks ( who need peak counter staff from 12-3 ) and many town centre shops (lunchtime shopping) can also have positions like this.

LaFataTurchina Wed 19-Jun-13 23:04:33

Maybe not everyone wants to get stuck in the commuter grind/rat race though?

I'm just coming to the end of my MA (and have other qualifications, experience bla ba etc) and am job hunting ..... one hand hand I have 'career' jobs and a hellish commute into London and on the other hand I could be a TA (my MAs in education), help kids, have the holidays off and be home for 5pm.

I'm willing to make the salary sacrifice for a more relaxed lifestyle, and I don't even have children yet.

NotDead Wed 19-Jun-13 22:58:15

agree totally with freyja.. I have worked in a traditional ly 'female' role that needed reporting analysis strategic awareness and negotiation/ problem solving.. the original spec said you needed two gcse minimum. You were also expected to ' be aware and empathetic of the student experience'.. somebody didn't look up 'empathetic!'

intheshed Wed 19-Jun-13 22:54:37

So, if a couple both earn a decent wage, get together and end up on a massive joint income, should one of them automatically give up their job because they don't "need" to work??

Should jobs be allocated by merit or by need?

FreyaSnow Wed 19-Jun-13 22:22:24

Kim, what I've found a problem with it is that I've worked places where they insist that the job is not a graduate role, then demoralise people by saying getting their degree was a waste of time, school of life, not skills required here etc. But at the same time when they hire a non-graduate who then doesn't have graduate level skills like complex report writing etc they are very critical that the person doesn't have those skills and isn't up to the job.

They should be honest that those are graduate jobs, but concede that some non-graduates get those same skills through other routes in work and so can do the job, and pay accordingly.

thecatfromjapan Wed 19-Jun-13 22:20:17

NotDead - that is depressing, and chimes with what timidviper is saying.

I may have to step away from this thread because it's a bit too "real" at the moment. sad

SamanthaJones Wed 19-Jun-13 22:17:44

Catfromjapan, sorry

SamanthaJones Wed 19-Jun-13 22:17:16

Great posts catinJapan

kim147 Wed 19-Jun-13 22:12:46

What I've noticed is a lot of these positions demand a lot, especially in terms of qualifications and also knowledge / skills but pay fuck all.

I've also looked at other jobs outside of teaching - many office jobs - which also pay fuck all with respect to the skills and qualifications expected for the post.

FreyaSnow Wed 19-Jun-13 22:12:04

Who does need a job? We have a benefits system where if you don't get a job they will give you benefits in exchange for having to work for no wage in Tesco or similar place. It's a corrupt system but if you are able-bodied it won't actually kill you.

People go out to work for a vast range of different reasons. All this seems to be dangerously close to saying that married women whose husbands at least have a middle income should be staying at home so their are jobs for people who need them more.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 19-Jun-13 22:11:38

Great post, thecat.

NotDead Wed 19-Jun-13 22:11:02

also -get this - when I started admin wss aboyt 50-50 male to female with men in senior roles. a new senior administrator started who set about downgrading the roles and aggressively recruiting women to fill them - of course this was claimed to be 'having a pro-women recruiting environment' but the idea was to have less challenging people to manage (haha more fool him!) .In fact this led to a laughably gendered workplace with all 'support' roles female- which has the annoying effect ofmaking female acadmics look like 'the office girls' helpef by an all male senior committee ( now changed to make sure an award was won).

in 5 years this senior admin had an all female admin environment bar one.. and in 7 an all female environment. Roles that had been grades 7 and 8 with male staff were now being run by female staff on grades 4 -6.

kim147 Wed 19-Jun-13 22:10:06

That was also interesting - there was a wide range of people who had degrees, some were ex teachers and some who had a TA qualification and no degree.

FreyaSnow Wed 19-Jun-13 22:07:05

How good an education do you need to be a TA? I thought you didn't need a degree but lots of TAs do have degrees because most graduates have to take non-graduate work anyway.

scallopsrgreat Wed 19-Jun-13 22:05:31

In fact thecatfromjapan has explained really well my problem with talking about women in terms of not needing money.

kim147 Wed 19-Jun-13 22:03:08

School I was at had 164 applicants for 1 post.

It's sought after - but poorly paid.

scallopsrgreat Wed 19-Jun-13 22:02:58

Tell that to Charles Saatchi Custardo. Please. grin

I agree Kim it is shit that such an important job is paid so low. It isn't because some women do the work when they don't "need" the money. It is because it is a female role. as cogitosum says where are the really low paid male jobs?

I must admit I thought that a lot of TA jobs were done by people wanting to become teachers rather than women not "needing" money.

And I am putting "need" in quotations because men are never referred to in these terms and there is a lot more to paid work that just the money. Women are as entitled to that as men.

FreyaSnow Wed 19-Jun-13 22:01:01

People going in to be TAs is also caused by making childcare difficult to arrange and expensive around other jobs. I've worked in a job where it would have made no difference whatsoever to what I did at work or the running of the company if I did 20 plus hours over 5 days 10-3, but they insisted part time workers did 9-5.30 over 3 days.

NotDead Wed 19-Jun-13 21:59:48

I think there is something in this - at least historically I worked for a uni where when I started in 2003 there was a club for 'wives of avademics' . yes really.

'traditionally' admin jobs were given ss perks to the wives who had to move because of their 'husbands' career - again yes in 2003. At functions wives were given flowers by a junior female admin etc etc. This is a Russel Group institution.

I heard several times that people in junior admin or technical roles.. again often considered 'wives of academic' roles..'don't want a career -its pin money'

it was awful but explaimed to me why even complex managerial roles were considered 'just admin' people still talked fondly of 'girls in the typing pool'

I was even instructed not to employ a 'boy' in an admin role because 'boys are unreliable'. admin work was that gendered. Female academics were.. when I left in 2010 expected by senior academics to take minutes, do disproportionate admin tasks and make tea.. though thankfully this got kicked on its arse by several people but it still got requested.

The point being that admin roles and 'soft' technical roles eg lab assistant, demonstrator, event scheduler etc were lower paid precisely because tgey weren't 'career jobs' they were 'help the male academic salary stretch by employing his wife' jobs and are still stuck with that legacy because '% age pay increases are 'fair' (are they buggery)

needless to say that when I joined a union that represented these grades and started campaigning for admin roles to have the recognition they deserved, I was 'made redundant'. not surprisingly as the implications for costs are high.. and this is in an institution that fakes statistics to have has several awards for female-friendly work environment.

thecatfromjapan Wed 19-Jun-13 21:57:45

kim147 - I have been thinking quite a bit about all this. It's interesting. It's a shame that motherhood indirectly caused me to fuck up my would-be career as an academic, because I would love to do some real, recognised, remunerated research on this. And then have my opinions respected as those of a professional ... but that's another thread! wink

Anyway, I reckon: "I don't have to work" is shorthand for a whole load of stuff. Some of this "stuff" is, I think (and this is just my opinion) experience, emotions, half-formed thoughts, intuitions, that don't actually have a solid language yet. It's hard to put it into words.

Some of it is obvious: I don't need to work for financial reasons - in that we won't starve if I don't - but if I don't work I will a. go mad b. feel like a non-person c. cry d. never get back into the work-force again when I finally get a chance to.

some of it is more complicated (I think): I don't need to work ... because I was completely screwed by society's current construction of parenthood, and that "I don't need to work" actually doesn't feel like a luxury, it feels like I have been pushed and coerced in ways that I didn't even recognise at the time.

I don't need to work because, actually, other people's needs come first, are more pressing, than this feeling that I have that I would like to work, and be paid, and be valued as someone other than a mother - which, actually, is less valued than it should be. And when I say other people's needs come first, that sort of means that if I tried to get a really well-paid job/career, somehow everyone else would have to start doing the stuff i do, and it would be painful for them, and we;d have to pay, and it still wouldn't be done well, so ... I don't need that enough ....

And then there is something ... I don't know ... rebellious? Parents voting with their labour and saying that working long hours, for all the money in the world, is a bit crap if you lose your life ... who knows. Maybem instead of seeing this as a regressive step (causing low wages) we might read it as a signpost to the revolution?

Anyway - I don't know. I find mumsnet interesting precisely because I think people talk here about things that just aren;t much discussed yet. And with enormous insight and honesty.

If I were a researching, I would be gently probing women in interviews to find out exactly what that phrase "I don't need to work" actually means. I think it is something quite different from "I have a wealthy husband and lie on the sofa eating white peaches." I think it is more about weighing "needs" against "wants" - and how the difference between those is structured, and how they are weighed, is not just gendered, but ... parented???? (Is that a word?)

Genuinely, I don;t like the idea of blaming women for low wages. It's just not a path I think any of us wants to take. It's a spiral to nowhere.

What;s more, it is bizarre when you think of how many people, men and women, are earning low wages anyway, which are subsidised (for now) by the state. An enormous subsidy for employers.

As for T.A. work: I feel your pain. I'm looking for T.A. work and it is very, very sought after.

timidviper Wed 19-Jun-13 21:56:28

Surely it's not blaming the women though, it's blaming those in authority who manipulate that situation to play lower wages.

I work in a professional role and, as the proportion of women in the profession has risen, the wages have fallen. Those women are not worth less than the men, in fact some studies suggest they outperform them, so why have wages dipped if not sexism?

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