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Mothering and Fathering in Flexible and Precarious Working Contexts: The Brazilian IT Sector Case

Barbara Castro

Abstract


This paper discusses how flexible working practices and precarious labour contracts affects women and men as they seek to reconcile professional life and parental responsibilities. This is demonstrated through a case study of the Brazilian Information Technology (IT) sector, which has deployed a significant amount of people under illegal and informal employment contracts (i.e. irregular specification of working conditions, no maternity leave, no annual leave), making great use of ‘flexible’ working practices (i.e home-office, working schedule adapted to employees’ needs). The paper draws from a large study in the field and compares the working and family arrangements of two women and two men selected from a wider sample to contribute to the literature in two main areas: the relationship between work and family and the debate on precarious working conditions. The paper shows that women strategically use flexible working practices to achieve some balance between work and family. On the other hand, men use the flexibility to increase salaries and pursue higher-level jobs. Such findings confirm previous analyses in developed countries about gender relations in the IT sector and on flexible working practices. However, in the Brazilian scenario, the added impact of a highly informal labour market on gender relations is noted as particularly pernicious for gender equality. 


Keywords


flexible labour; precarious contracts; IT; gender, work and family; Brazil

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