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Elizabeth A. Martin, Jennifer Hess, and Paul M. Siegel

KEY WORDS: Vignettes, Current Population Survey, Employment


This paper empirically analyzes effects of gender on the public's interpretations of various activities as "work." In a special survey conducted by the Census Bureau, a series of vignettes describing hypothetical work-related situations was presented to respondents, who were asked to classify them as "work," or not. The gender of the subject described in the vignette was randomly varied. In this paper, we apply log-linear models to examine the effects of the respondent's gender and the gender of the subject of the vignette upon classifications of the vignette activities as work. We conclude that (1) male respondents are more influenced by the gender of the vignette subject than female respondents, for certain kinds of activities, such as helping activities, and (2) men are more likely than women to classify certain marginal activities as work, such as work in preparation for a business, or casual labor for a few hours. The results show that gender influences interpretations of the meaning of work in the literal sense: that is, whether certain activities are labelled "work" in some cases depends upon the gender of the person engaged in the activity, or on the gender of the person interpreting the situation, and in some cases, both.

Citation: Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 5, edited by R. L. and I. H. Simpson. Greenwich Conn.: JAI Press.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or chad.eric.russell@census.gov) |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010