John is a white, college-educated professional who lost his job. When I interviewed John, he chalked up his job loss as being a business decision, “A work superior explained to me that the business outlook was not looking good for the upcoming months. And consequently, it was a business decision, and not related to my work performance.” John added, “it was all based on dollars.”
As I explain in a new article published in Gender & Society, for John and for dozens of other unemployed men that I interviewed, the process of losing a job was a fact of the contemporary U.S. economy. For some it also appeared to reinforce their professional value.
six month period before she lost her job had been painful for Doris Richards
(all names are pseudonyms). A lawyer who worked at a family-run firm, Doris was
convinced that the owners were trying to elbow her out of their firm by making
her working life miserable. When they finally did, Doris felt a sense of
relief. She says, “One of the things I felt was, ‘Oh good, I can go to [events
my kids are involved in]…I have more time now. I don’t feel pulled. I don’t
feel as though I’m being tortured at work anymore. And I felt I could give more
to my kids.”
may seem like an unusual response to unemployment, especially given that Doris
earned considerably more than her husband who is in the public sector.
In my recent article, I show how unemployment – whether they were fired, made redundant, or laid off – was a different experience for college-educated, professional, married heterosexual mothers than what prior theories of unemployment, often drawing largely from men’s experiences, would indicate.