The feminization of the labour movement?, women's participation in the Manitoba Government Employees Union

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Gorkoff, Kelly
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This study asks the question "Since paid work is a reality for most women, why are women not involved in union work?" It utilizes a socialist feminist framework to conceptualize the connections between patriarchy and capitalism, and how they interact to impact women's life choices. The study analyses 1085 survey responses of rank and file women from the Manitoba Government Employees union to understand why women, who make up over fifty percent of the membership, are not found in high ranking leadership roles. The barriers that are tested for are grouped into the following categories: structure of the labour market, structure of unions, structure of reproduction, and attitudinal barriers. Job tenure, living arrangement, and comfort level with unions were significant factors in women's participation in unions. Both variables tested under the structure of unions were significant for women's involvement. The inconvenient meeting times and the lack of support for women's issues by the Manitoba Government Employees union, were significant factors in women's involvement in the union. It is concluded that the influence of patriarchy on union structure created an organization that neglects the needs of women.