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Title: Women, Work and Choice Making in Singapore
Issue Date: 20-Jul-2011
Citation: CHUA MINYI (2011-07-20). Women, Work and Choice Making in Singapore. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This exploratory, qualitative study examines women?s rationalizations of the decisions they have made in different forms of paid employment, as it is seen among well-educated Singaporean women in their forties and fifties. The study aims to locate these women?s narratives within the construction of work and choice-making in Singapore for women, and analyzes the wider social and political implications these may have on issues of gender inequalities in Singapore. This thesis examines the historical context of structural conditions which complicate what is known as ?work-life balance? choices for women, and argues that women may be collectively adopting a risk-averse approach in their personal biographies as part of managing that "balance". The ideological construct of ?Asian? femininity privileges involvement and domestic responsibilities for women over active, aggressive participation in the market. However, with rapid industrialization, joining the labour force and actively acquiring skills that increase the employability of an individual has been increasingly viewed as practical and prudent. In Singapore, women and men alike to aspire towards successful careers in paid employment, which helps to keep up with increasing costs of maintaining certain lifestyle and consumption habits, but to build and maintain a desirable identity and social class. Pressures of an aging population and an open labour economy, however, continually increase the need to provide domestic caregiving, while raising the bar for the labour force in Singapore, especially for women. The gendered nature of ?work-life balance? debates in the country has often been rationalized to be the result of heterogeneous personal preferences of women and valorized as a part of family values, but this has resulted in individualization of a phenomenon that is also sustained by structural forces. Findings indicate that this internalization of the omnipotence of the individual?s ability to accept, rationalize with and work around obstacles, reduces the visibility of structural conditions. The responsibility for managing the risks imposed by society leads to a gendered dimension in choices. This is because women in Singapore, especially those with elderly and young dependents, appear inclined to respond to the paradoxical pressures of domestic responsibilities and the workplace by strategically choosing career paths that enable them to manage the demands of their families, which may further contribute to a gender gap in earnings.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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