Women's work or woman's work is work believed to be exclusively the domain of women and associates particular stereotypical tasks that history has associated with the female gender. It is particularly used with regard to the unpaid work that a mother or wife will perform within a family and household.
Related concepts include gender role, wage labour and employment, female workforce, and women's rights (cf. Gender roles and feminism). The term may be pejorative, because historical advertisements have promoted the misrepresentation of women as only house maids.
The term "women's work" may indicate a role with children as defined by nature in that only women are biologically capable of performing them: pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. It may also refer to professions that involve these functions: midwife and wet nurse. "Women's work" may also refer to roles in raising children particularly within the home: diaper changing and related hygiene, toilet training, bathing, clothing, feeding, monitoring, and education with regard to personal care. It may also refer to professions that include these functions such as that of: teacher (up to the age of puberty), governess, nanny, day care worker, and au pair. "Women's work" may also refer to roles related to housekeeping such as: cooking, sewing, ironing, and cleaning. It may also refer to professions that include these functions such as: maid and cook. Though much of "women's work" is indoors, some is outdoors such as: fetching water, grocery shopping or food foraging, and gardening. At least in the European context, and until the industrial revolution, society was primarily agrarian and women were just as involved in working on farms as men.
By contrast, "men's work" involves the usage of strength or work outdoors, also considered macro power which is defined as public sphere power; mechanical, electrical or electronic knowledge and skill; employment ("bread-winning", "bringing home the bacon"); most dealings with money; or higher reasoning to perform tasks. The term micropower refers to having greater power in the home; which means that it is easier for men to avoid house work and care labor. Micro power may also be a tool men use to prevent women from entering the workforce. When women are kept in the private sphere, men remain the sole provider financially, which provides headway in American society. Among some people, men's work is considered to be the opposite of "women's work" and thus does not include activities within the home or with children, though "men's work" traditionally includes work that involves both (such as repairing appliances and disciplining children).
- Borck, Larissa (September 2019). "'A woman's work is never done': women's working history in Europe". Europeana (CC By-SA). Retrieved 2019-09-27.
- Gendered division of labour
- Pink-collar worker
- Women in firefighting
- Women in the workforce