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Poland

Gender Roles And The Family; Spouses As Coproviders

In Polish families, traditionally, home is the stage for gender-related division of labor in spite of the high rate of women's full-time employment outside the home, including married women with children. Under socialism, usually both spouses were gainfully employed as the norm. Almost exclusively, the household chores and childcare responsibilities were and are placed on shoulders of women. Husbands assist working wives with household chores only sporadically. The higher the educational level of spouses, the more men are involved in household duties. Judging by studies on time budget, women have less available leisure time than do men, while men work longer hours at paid employment (CBOS [Kobiety] 1999).

Before 1989, almost all working-age citizens were expected to work, with few exceptions (e.g., university studies, illness). Women, however, continue to face a conflict between their maternal role and their occupational pursuits. The incentives and benefits offered for having a family and children resulted in a reverse effect on women's occupational roles, placing them in positions of constant role conflict, caused by combined family and employment responsibilities. After 1989, some women are rebelling against being forced to work and are trying to take advantage of the free choices that arrived with democracy by not working and having to cope without the state's assistance. However, low incomes, inflation, and unemployment forced many women (including those who are married with children) to seek work. According to a comparative study (1964–1998) among the most appreciated values of married life were having children and working (earning money) together with a spouse, to make ends meet. This manifests an expectation that both, husband and wife, will be working outside the home. In spite of an existing division of labor at home, most of the mothers opt for partnership in marriage, where the husband shares equally the decision-making and household duties with his wife (Lobodzińska 1970; OBOP 1998).

Occupational success is identified with higher education. Parents tend to influence children to pursue their schooling. Parents' intention is to secure their daughters' future economic independence through education (which will make them eligible for employment). Simultaneously, they urge the girls into types of education that ensure their future secondary roles in the economy. Young women tend to select occupations less in demand and with lower pay. Division of labor is thus passed from one generation to the next. More women attend universities, and more of them graduate. Among employees (also among the unemployed) are higher numbers of women with secondary education and with university degrees.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsPoland - Changes In Population And Demographic Structure Since The 1960s, Legislation Applied To Marriage, The Family, And Working Mothers