An unsettled bargain? Mothers' perceptions of justice and fairness in paid work
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Mothers’ return to work following childbirth is widely recognized as a key stage in establishing employment arrangements that disadvantage them in the long run. This article investigates why mothers accept these unequal arrangements using data from a qualitative study of 109 Australian mothers. It focuses on mothers’ perceptions of the fairness and justice of the flexibility of arrangements they commonly enter into upon return to work. The article draws attention to the importance of different justice frameworks, distributive, procedural and interactional, in understanding women’s acceptance of gender inequality in paid work. The results indicate that most mothers view their workplace arrangements as fair, consistent with a distributive justice framework. Many women also place great importance on interactional justice, particularly in their experiences in negotiating flexibility. The article also identifies differences across employment type with women in jobs with career prospects more likely to invoke interactional justice frameworks than women in jobs with few career prospects.
Journal of Sociology
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