There is a “coach” for everything these days. There are dating coaches, health coaches, career coaches, and speaking coaches. There are coaches to help you find wellness, financial freedom, and the serenity of a decluttered closet. And, perhaps most audaciously, there are legions of self-described “life” coaches.
Where did all these new experts come from? And, given their general lack of credentials, why do people hire them?
You may wonder if this a multi-level marketing kind of arrangement – suspecting, correctly, that coaches are much less successful than they let on and are hoping to sell others on an entrepreneurship class (also correct). You may wonder if this is outright fraud, ideological snake-oil, or just the blind leading the blind. And you may also ask yourself, occasionally, does it work?
In a recently published article, I report results from a year I spent studying career coaches, in particular – observing their pitches and conducting in-depth interviews with both coaches and their clients. I find that none of these characterizations quite capture why and how “coaching” has grown to $3 billion industry in recent years.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded health care provider in the country. It is the largest non-military employer in the world. Similar to US medical services, it is heavily dependent on migrant doctors to deliver essential medical services. Many accounts, though, find evidence for inequality in their careers and pay.
Twenty six percent of UK doctors have obtained their primary medical qualification overseas, migrating from the European Economic Area (EEA) or further afield (international medical graduate or IMG). Research on the experience of women doctors and on migrant doctors can be located, but with a notable exception. It is less common to see gender and place of qualification considered together. So, we wanted to know – do NHS migrant doctors experience pay gaps compared with their UK-trained counterparts? Are they worse for women? And if so, how can they be narrowed?
How far are we from achieving gender equality in the division of labor at home and at work? Across the world, women spend more time on unpaid domestic work, and men do more labor market work. This gender division of labor is the cause and the consequence of many other forms of gender inequalities, such as the gender pay gap and the tendency for men and women to work in different jobs.
Yet gender relations are changing. Nowadays in most industrialised societies more women than men go to the university. More women have jobs than before, even after they have become mothers. Have we witnessed a gender revolution in the division of labor accordingly? In other words, are men doing more housework, and are women doing more labor market work?
Organizing is hard. It is hard to organize workers to improve their working conditions and seek redress for workplace abuse. And it is especially hard to organize low-wage workers who inhabit the deregulated, fissured workplaces of the post-Fordist labor market.
The challenges of organizing low-wage workers are as much structural and institutional as they are tactical. Formal legal protections are only as good as the ability of workers to engage in individual and collective claims-making to pull the “fire alarm” of a wage theft claim, prompt an Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) investigation, or initiate a sexual harassment complaint, for example. Worker advocates have stepped in to help bridge that gap. Their work is more critical now than ever as union membership has plummeted and is nearly nonexistent in many of the jobs and industries that many vulnerable workers occupy.
To this end, worker centers and other alt-labor groups have developed creative mobilization strategies to support worker claims and build worker power in the low-wage labor market. Since 2008, we have engaged in research with low-wage workers who participated in the individual and collective claims making processes of two worker centers, one in Chicago and the other in the San Francisco Bay area, both serving low-wage, mainly immigrant worker constituency.
As Julia, a 28-year-old college graduate in Madrid, Spain, described she and her friends’ persistent experiences with unemployment and precarious, low-paying employment, she burst into tears:
“We’re doing badly in absolutely everything…It’s a limbo, what I call the professional limbo, in which the logical progression, which is you study, you go to high school, college, you have a job, has changed completely.”
Nonetheless, when Julia imagined her life in five years, she described herself in a stable professional trajectory—in a job she disliked as a private school teacher, but one she would be in permanently:
The debate about the impact of automation on the labour market has been ongoing for several years, as new technologies are taking over jobs currently performed by workers. Our study discusses how workers are responding to the growing automation of production processes, and why human capital adjustments are crucial for the workforce to remain competitive in the labour market also in future.
Industrial robots are among the leading automation technologies of the last decades. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) defines them as “automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulators, programmable in three or more axes”, and estimates that the global stock of robots has increased from 500 thousand to almost three million units between the early 1990s and the late 2010s.
An Uber driver once told me he keeps a gun under his seat because “Uber doesn’t have my back”. Another was told by a customer that he should “go back to his own country”. Yet another was punched in the back of his head while driving.
Anyone who has ever worked a customer service job knows that customer abuse against workers is rampant; one study found that, on average, call center workers interact with abusive customers more than ten times a day. The gig economy is no exception.
Yet if platform workers are “their own boss”, why are they subjected to constant customer abuse? And why does this issue seem to be getting worse over time?
The COVID-19 pandemic sent large numbers of workers whose jobs permitted it into working from home. At the peak more than 60% of U.S. workers worked remotely. Working from home blurs the boundaries between work and personal lives. We find, surprisingly, that remote work brought with it both more and fewer hours, but this varied depending on family care responsibilities as well as gender, race, and class.
Work hours are important because working time is a fundamental aspect of working conditions associated with pay and status, family and personal lives, as well as health and well-being. Given the currently “frighteningly high levels” of burnout among U.S. workers, it becomes all the more important to understand how working from home affects hours worked.
In a recently published study, we investigate how work hours changed as women and men moved to remote working conditions, and how remote workers themselves account for increases, decreases, or stability in their work hours. We find different experiences for women and men, as well as at the intersections of gender with caregiving obligations, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
In 2021, the number of stay-at-home dads in the United States reached record highs. Does this mean that cultural views about gender, masculinity, work, and family—particularly the idea that men should be breadwinners—are changing? Not necessarily.
Our recent research in Gender & Society assesses cultural views of stay-at-home fathers over three decades, by examining their portrayal in leading newspapers and magazines between 1987 and 2016. We found that news portrayals of stay-at-home dads have indeed become more positive over time. But the growing support for full-time caregiver fathers is conditional.
Dads who lost their jobs because of involuntary unemployment are viewed sympathetically, especially since the Great Recession. But dads who are able to work, but choose to stay home with children instead, are still described negatively. As much as we’d like to think that the gender-bending phenomenon of (slightly) increasing numbers of dads at home is a harbinger of more fundamental gender liberalization, our results suggest that this is not unambiguously the case.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, many of us increasingly turned to gig workers to have meals, groceries and other household necessities delivered to our doorsteps.
The increased demand for these services during this period meant that online labor platforms were an alternative source of income for at least some of the workers who had been laid off as part of the resulting economic shutdowns. For other workers looking to reduce their exposure to the virus, online crowdwork platforms offered remote job opportunities that could be performed from the safety of their home.
During a period of unprecedent upheaval, risk and uncertainty, then, the gig economy provided some much-needed flexibility and convenience to many consumers and workers. These purported benefits remain core to platform firms’ marketing strategies as they seek to expand in a future post-pandemic economy.