The gendered division of labour within voluntary organisations that are ideologically committed to equality

 “If a job needs doing give it to a busy woman”: The gendered division of labour within voluntary organisations that are ideologically committed to equality

An in-depth study of the Woodcraft Folk

By Agnes Taylor 

Supervisor: Jonathan Moss 

The University of Sussex 

School of Politics, Law and Sociology 

  1. Introduction

 The presence and variations of gendered divisions of labour are documented extensively in the labour market and the home (Eagly & Wood, 2016; Riggs & Bartholomaeus, 2020), but to a lesser extent in the voluntary sector (Rotolo & Wilson, 2007). This gap in research reflects common understandings of work where voluntary labour is under-researched as it is neither paid nor reproductive (Taylor, 2005). However, investigation of the voluntary sector could provide valuable insights into gendered divisions of labour, if they occur in organisations individuals participate in willingly. While it would be relevant to examine all types of volunteering to broaden understandings of these divisions, this dissertation focuses on organisations with commitments to equality. The mainstreaming of feminism and gender equality without practical commitment has been noted both in popular media (Framke, 2020) and in academia, in relation to paid labour (Gill, 2014). This gap between ideology and reality is dangerous in a time when attitudes such as post-feminism present sexism as a thing of the past. Organisations which hold strong commitments to these values, while inequalities within them are hidden, fuel these narratives. This research examines and attempts to understand this gap between ideological commitment and practice through firstly establishing its presence in an organisation and then looking at how their volunteers understand and justify it. This paper shows how this gap undermines the organisation’s ideological commitments while furthering research into the gendered division of labour and the mainstreaming of equality.


This dissertation uses an in-depth case-study of the Woodcraft Folk (WCF), a charity with a constitutional commitment to gender equality (WCF, 2012) including quantitative and qualitative analysis of the voluntary experiences and habits of its members. To set up the research, there is a literature review on gendered divisions of labour, studies into voluntary labour and the mainstreaming of equality. Next, a brief history of the WCF and an introduction to the research questions and methodology. Two research questions are formulated to examine if there is a gap between ideology and practice in the form of a division of labour: RQ1: Does WCF demonstrate gendered inequalities in voluntary labour? RQ2: If a disparity between ideological commitments and reality is found, how and why might this happen? 

RQ1 was approached quantitatively through a survey completed by seventy WCF members, gathering data on roles and jobs undertaken while volunteering for the organisation, which was then analysed for gendered differences. This showed some small but significant differences in tasks taken by volunteers which were unpacked using qualitative methods. RQ2 was analysed qualitatively through interviews and one open-ended survey response. A division in emotional, hidden and domestic labour was found as well as a difference in valuing work, although there were also distinctly post-feminist understandings that presented WCF as free from gender inequality. Volunteers made sense of these differences through a combination of understandings, including demographics, natural differences, social roles, skills or abilities and personal characteristics. 

These findings support and reflect literature on the gendered division of labour and present these theories to be applicable to voluntary work. The presence of a gap between ideological commitment and reality shows the need for self-critical reflection within organisations to ensure feminism is enacted and not a performative label. The volunteers’ justifications of this gap demonstrate the need for more nuanced understandings of both sexism and work which include more than overt discrimination and acknowledge and value emotional and hidden forms of labour.

  1. Literature review 

The gendered division of labour refers to how work is structured along gendered lines. Women tend to participate more in domestic labour, while men generally spend a higher percentage of their time in paid work (Thane, 1992). Traditionally, this referred to women doing the caring responsibilities and household tasks, while men participated in paid employment as the ‘breadwinner’ (Breen & Cooke, 2005). Despite women’s advancements within the labour market, this division of labour has persisted with women still doing the bulk of domestic labour while working outside of the home (Riggs & Bartholomaeus, 2020). An aspect of the gendered division of labour in employment is the sex-segregation of jobs. Women and men tend to be clustered in different occupations, men taking a higher percentage of manual jobs like builders or drivers, while women form a higher percentage of secretaries and shopping clerks (Rotolo & Wilson, 2007). Across all occupations, women hold the majority of part-time jobs, lower paid and lower status jobs while men make up the majority of higher positions such as company CEOs, managers or directors (Thane, 1992; Acker, 2006). 

These differences in labour participation were once seen as reflections of innate gender differences, where women were better suited to the private sphere and nurturing roles and men to the public sphere, paid employment and physical labour (Eagly & Wood, 2016). However, feminist theory dismisses this biological rationale (Thane, 1992) in favour of a more complex picture relating the domestic division of labour and sex segregation to social roles (Eagly & Wood, 2016), the patriarchy (Witz, 2013), and legal and political barriers to equal labour participation (Fagan & Rubery, 2018; Conley, 2016). The continuance of gendered divisions of labour, despite safeguards such as the Equal Pay Act (ukpga, 1970) and mass female participation in the labour market, stimulates continuing research into its presence combining social, political and legislative causes (Thane, 1992; Verniers & Vala, 2018). Social role theory, or gender role theory, refers to the way gender is learned, enforced and reinforced through socialisation, creating almost universal gender norms with women as nurturers and carers (Eagly & Wood, 2016). This gender socialisation impacts the development, opportunities, and mental and physical health of individuals (Saewyc, 2017; Elgarte, 2008), influencing perceptions of them and their social interactions. The patriarchy as a theoretical tool seeks to link this socialisation with women’s relative disadvantage and subordination to men, referring to a social system and ideology which is rooted in male dominance and superiority (Walby, 1990). 

The division of labour has been examined from many angles. Qualitative research documents women facing patriarchal discrimination in traditionally male sectors (Soklaridis, et al., 2017). Social role theory has examined how children are encouraged in different subjects leading to specific careers and occupational segregation with fewer women in engineering, sciences and maths (Barone, 2015). Quantitative research has documented vertical segregation within occupations like social work (Pease, 2011) as well as showing how work-place discrimination is justified by the strength of myths surrounding motherhood roles (Verniers & Vala, 2018). These studies show the persistence of the gender division of labour despite the popular expectation of progress towards gender equality (McRobbie, 2004) as well as highlighting circular causalities between occupational sex-segregation and the domestic division of labour. Given their primary caregiver role, women are more likely to take part-time work to manage their domestic duties, which can then mean they are less likely to be offered a promotion remaining in lower paid, lower status jobs. 

Recent research examines inequalities in different, less traditional, types of labour. Research into managers in a company showed female managers doing quiet, unobtrusive organisational housekeeping that kept everything running smoothly and successfully. In comparison, their male counterparts swooped in to solve spectacular problems, resulting in more praise but concentrating on arguably less effective work (Acker, 2006). This reflects the gendered division of organisational labour within the domestic sphere. In family units where men do visible domestic tasks like washing up or cooking, women are often still doing most of the organisational work in relation to the household. This could either be noticing the work and having to either delegate or do it themselves, or general organising such as knowing when food supplies need replenishing. This labour, referred to as the ‘mental load’, is often hidden but amounts to women doing most of the household planning, mental calculations and delegation (Faircloth, 2019). Similarly, there is often inequalities in emotional work: social norms shape women as caring and nurturing resulting in women doing the majority of emotional care labour for children and/or elderly relatives in the private sphere (Strazdins & Broom, 2004). This is reflected in the public sphere, where women in higher education (Tuck, 2018), in service industries (Taylor & Tyler, 2000) and in healthcare settings (Allen, 2014) are all shown to participate in time-consuming invisible emotional labour supporting others at work. 

These gendered divisions are mainly researched in the labour market or in the home. There is little literature in relation to voluntary organisations such as charities. Voluntary work, referred to as ‘activities which people willingly contribute without wages, on a regular basis, to a formal organisation’ (Baldock, 1998), is pertinent for feminist studies, given its link to other unwaged work women do the majority of. Plenty of volunteer work provides social care including childcare, education and welfare such as food and housing. Here, volunteers fill roles typically done by women under the patriarchal structuring of the labour market and the domestic sphere (Baldock, 1998). As well as providing these essential services, volunteering often promotes active citizenship and community. Therefore, it is important the values and structures they promote and demonstrate are not reinforcing patriarchal structures (Smith, et al., 2010). 

Research on gender and volunteering focuses mainly on gendered divisions between separate organisations. This includes work regarding sex-segregation examining whether individuals volunteer in organisations that fulfil their social roles (Fyall & Gazley, 2015) and research into whether gender or the gender equality of a country influences the type of organisation individuals volunteer in (Wemlinger & Berlan, 2016). Other work examines the gendered division of participation in volunteering (Windebank, 2008) considering the relative time people volunteer compared to employment. Gender differences in labour force participation is thought to greatly influence volunteering commitment. However, studies have shown this to not always be the case for example in formal and informal volunteering in Germany (Helms & McKenzie, 2014).

There is some research into the influence of gender on volunteering. One relevant study finds men are more likely to occupy leadership positions while women are more likely to cook, organise clothing or fundraise. This research revealed horizontal sex-segregation within volunteering with individuals taking roles and jobs relating to their gender roles, demonstrating an unequal and unfair allocation of work between woman and men in paid and unpaid labour (Rotolo & Wilson, 2007). However, this study, like others looking at how gender influences the type and amount of volunteering, compared multiple organisations. It is unknown if similar gendered divisions would be replicated within a single organisation and there is thus a gap in research about the gendered division of labour within voluntary organisations. Research into a gendered divide in jobs and roles and an unbalanced workload within volunteering is especially relevant when considering more varied understandings of labour such as organisational and emotional labour, which are essential to much volunteer work. 

While this is relevant in any voluntary organisation, it is especially relevant in relation to those with an ideological commitment to equality. A gendered division of labour in such organisations has been examined in UK popular culture. Merrlees looks at gender equality in the charity sector, discrediting the assumption that the sector will be more equal than the corporate world by highlighting sexual exploitation, harassment, the gender pay gap within charity jobs, and a tendency for top jobs such as Charity CEOs and board memberships to be held predominantly by men (Merrlees, 2018). Although the gender pay gap within charities (Bawden & Ibbetson, 2018) is inapplicable to voluntary work within the sector, it shows the gendered division of labour is present within these organisations. 

There is great incongruence in being ideologically committed to something without practical application. It is imperative to understand why and how this gap occurs and to aid organisations in wholly fulfilling their aims. This links to academic interest in implementing theory (Itzen, 1995 (ebook 2003)) as well as research into inequality in fields typically seen as egalitarian (Gill, 2002). Research into this paradox looks at new, more subtle forms of sexism hidden by the narrative of equality. Instead of focusing on traditional and structural inequalities such as the gender pay gap or childcare, this research examines how a myth of equality could be a key mechanism through which inequality is reproduced, as it effectively silences women against microaggressions within their organisation. If they try to address the continuance of patriarchal structures, such as the prioritisation of ‘masculine’ traits, while women are discredited for displaying skills and expertise that are deemed to be ‘feminine’, they are rebuffed by those quoting the company’s egalitarian image (Gill, 2002). 

Some studies into inequality suggest sexism and other inequalities are becoming more visible and less acceptable as a result of greater awareness and commitments against them (Acker, 2006). However, research into the mainstreaming of equality directly refutes this, arguing an ideological commitment to equality can hide or even perpetuate inequalities. Organisations that present themselves as equal and diverse while having deep structural inequalities along gender, class and racial lines can be shielded by post-feminist attitudes (Gill, 2002). Post-feminism understands sexism as finished and feminism as a fight that has been won (Gill, 2014). This belief in the ‘pastness’ of feminism, found across contemporary culture (McRobbie, 2007), is linked with a progressive view of history. Presenting progress as inevitable and feminism as triumphant renders social movements against these injustices superfluous. This narrative could contribute to further inequalities and make it harder to recognise or voice when sexism does occur (Gill, 2014; Gill, 2002). 

This research into whether ‘feminist commitment’ can hide inequalities (Gill, 2002) links to studies examining the significance of ideology in organisational change (Thomas, 1999) and loosely relates to ‘purplewashing’: the co-option of feminism as a political or marketing strategy by companies and organisations to promote themselves through the appeal of gender equality. Those involved in ‘purplewashing’ are simultaneously involved in activities that are detrimental to feminism while benefiting from it as a label (Hinman, 2019). The phenomena of ‘purplewashing’ makes it exceptionally important organisations that claim ideological commitment to feminism are actively practicing gender equality. 

Most of the studies in this literature review assume heteronormativity. There is research showing divisions and inequalities in queer households and the labour market in relation to identities other than gender (Biblarz & Savci, 2010; Aksoy, et al., 2019; Tilcsik, et al., 2015; Ozeren, 2014). While intersectionality shows volunteering experiences are affected by an interconnection of gender with other social identities to create overlapping systems of disadvantage or discrimination (Crenshaw, 1990), the limited nature of this research restricts the focus to gender

  1. The Woodcraft Folk

This paper focuses on a singular volunteer organisation: The Woodcraft Folk. Woodcraft is a registered UK Charity with a stated focus on equality and co-operation (WCF, 2020). A youth movement formed in 1925, it is an educational, empowerment and advocacy movement for children and young people (WCF, 2012). Its mission is to be “open to all with the aim of building an environmentally sustainable world built on children’s and human rights, equality, friendship, peace, economic & social justice and co-operation” (WCF, 2020b). WCF’s mission distinguished it, at least when it was formed, from other uniformed youth movements in Britain such as the Scouts and Guides which at the time had radically different political, religious and gender-based ideologies (Mills, 2016). From its outset, the WCF has practiced inclusion through inviting and encouraging children of any religion, gender or political affiliation (Mills, 2016). Striving for ‘education for social change’, the WCF aims to ‘develop knowledge, attitudes, values and skills necessary for (members) to act to secure their equal participation’ (WCF, 2012) as well as promoting equal opportunities in all aspects of activity and participation within the WCF (WCF, 2012). 

Towards the practical application of their aims WCF supports co-educational groups of children and young people under trained leaders, by providing them with activities as well as democratic involvement in the organisation (WCF, 2012). As an educational organisation, their program is based on non-formal education which advocates learning through experience and experiment while incorporating socialist ideals of cooperation, shared understanding, respect and equity (WCF, 2012). Their everyday program takes the form of volunteer-led groups split by age from four to twenty-one. These groups typically meet weekly for sessions including educational sessions, crafts, indoor and outdoor games, and other organised activities. To facilitate this, WCF provides training for its volunteers who organise weekly sessions and local, national and international camps (WCF, 2020b). It is democratic, with a General Council of nominated and elected members from around the country. Policy, aims, campaigns, constitutional amendments and spending are voted on by geographical regions and groups at the Annual Gathering. 


  1. Research Aims and Methodology

This paper looks into the gap in research into the gendered division of labour in volunteer organisations. It examines whether divisions of labour seen in the home and the labour market are duplicated within a voluntary organisation, the Woodcraft Folk. Given WCF’s ideological commitments to equality and cooperation, and its strong volunteer base, it could be assumed there would be a balance of work and labour. However, research has shown such ideology does not necessarily translate practically, and this paper therefore addresses two research questions:

RQ1: Does WCF demonstrate gendered inequalities in voluntary labour?


RQ2: If a disparity between ideological commitments and reality is found, how and why might this happen? 

The research takes a mixed methods approach. RQ1 is assessed through a quantitative survey and RQ2 is investigated using semi-structured interviews. Preliminary analysis of the survey results was undertaken before the interviews so that themes from the survey could be explored in the interviews. Although this research aims to be neutral in data gathering and analysis it recognises its normativity to the extent that I (the researcher) am a woman aiming for gender equality. I have also been a member of WCF for seventeen years and active volunteer for ten. This means some volunteers may have participated because they knew me, and the content of interviews with these participants may also have been affected. 

4.1 The Survey

The survey gathered information about volunteering habits and behaviours among WCF volunteers. It was completed on-line using GoogleForms. Participants were recruited through the Woodcraft Folk website and the Woodcraft Facebook page. It was also distributed via some districts’ mailing lists. It was open for a month and received seventy responses. Questions were mainly closed answers to enable quantitative analysis, but there was one open-ended question. Results were downloaded and analysed in Excel.

The survey asked about respondents’ roles and activities in group nights, on camps and on committees. These volunteering habits were then compared to establish if there are differences in the amount or type of volunteering done by women and men. There was also a question on the frequency of helping with certain types of activities. 

The questions pertaining to camp, group night and committee roles and jobs asked both for any role the volunteer had ever done and the role(s) they did on the last occasion they attended. It would be useful to know the number of times each individual had done each role. However, it would be unreasonable to expect people to remember this across all their volunteering time. Instead the answers to the question about the last job are used to estimate frequency: while anyone could have done a job once, the last role they did is more likely to be the role they take most often. The results from the two questions together should allow an estimate of the percentage of each gender to have done each job. Not all roles asked about were done by enough people to make meaningful comparisons. 

The survey has relevant limitations. All answers were self-reported meaning there could be discrepancies between what people report having done and what actually happened. It is also missing a large percentage of younger WCF volunteers as, for ethical reasons, it was open to over eighteen-year-olds only. It is unknown whether having younger volunteers would have influenced the results. Also, the responses may have been dominated by enthusiastic long-standing volunteers who were more likely to respond to the link on Facebook and the website. While this is positive in some ways, as it shows people with lots of volunteering experience and knowledge of WCF, it misses out lots of volunteers who participate less frequently. This is balanced somewhat by a higher percentage of respondents from Eastern Region who responded not solely out of enthusiasm for WCF but also from encouragement from friends and from knowing the author. A table of descriptive statistics is given in Appendix A. 

4.2 Interviews

Survey respondents could leave their email to be contacted for an interview. Twenty-seven people were willing and thirteen were chosen to be interviewed. This was done as randomly as possible while aiming to include an even split between men and women, and between those who responded that volunteering was affected by gender and those who responded that it was not. Due to limited availability, time constraints and drop-outs eight women were interviewed in the end compared to five men. Two of the women interviewed as a pair. While accounting for these factors, a range of different areas and ages was chosen. The interviews were over Zoom, lasted between thirty minutes and an hour and were recorded with permission. These were then transcribed and analysed by picking out similar themes from words and sentiments expressed. See Appendix B & C for a full distribution of interview subjects and questions. Interviews have been anonymised by changing names.

 

  1. Quantitative Analysis

The following graphs show the percentage of women and men who performed a role at a camp/group night/committee. Graphs are shown in pairs, the first relating to any camp and the second to the last camp. 








5.1: Camp Results. 

Numbers doing certain jobs at their last camp were too small in some categories to draw conclusions, but the any camp graph shows women were more likely to organise the food and menu (KP) while men were more likely to take on the site-services type role (KG). There is also a split in public and private facing roles with more men taking the main public organising role (CC) (shown in both graphs) while more women take the behind-the-scenes organising role of admin. For Programme, although more men reported having done this role, more women reported having done it last, suggesting women were more likely to take this time-consuming and organisational role. 

5.2: Group Night Results


There is more data for helping at group nights than camps making frequency estimates possible. The larger number of responses could be from having more older people who had been volunteering longer, giving them a chance to do more roles. This especially could be the case with men as a higher percentage of them were in the eldest age category. Therefore, the last role or job they did at a group night is likely to be more informative as it will not be influenced by respondents who only did a job once.

The results from roles at any group night (Graph C) show women to be much more likely to do finances, admin or emotional support while men were more likely to be the leader and organise snacks or materials. However, a higher percentage of women were leader in the last session they attended (Graph D). Women were also more likely to have done setting up, finances, admin, discipline and buying snacks and materials in the last session. The largest gap is in emotional support where a much smaller percentage of men said they did this at their last group night in comparison to women. These results are limited as we cannot know how frequently people volunteer and if these individuals are consistently doing these roles. This would be both difficult to ask and to compare with such a small sample size. 



5.3: Committee/district organising group results

Committee roles could refer to either a local level, such as a district, committee or a national one, such as General Council (GC) or District Fellows committee. The survey results in relation to the last committee (Graph E) show men were more likely to have been chair but also were a little more likely to have participated in a committee or group without taking on a role. Women were more likely to do the general organisation such as getting snacks or setting up. Results from the last committee show women were more likely to have been the coordinator or chair and have a named role, whereas men, once again, were much more likely to have participated without a role (Graph F). This could mean a higher percentage of women commit to a named role with additional responsibilities outside of the meetings. Similarly, women were more likely to have purchased food or set up.

5.4: Frequency of types of activity 

The survey asked whether people volunteered frequently, occasionally, rarely, or never for particular types of activity which might be associated with gendered roles, and the distribution of women and men over these categories is shown in Graph G. Activities asked about were cooking, educational activities, indoor or outdoor games and outdoor activities.

The results show more men than women reported helping frequently with cooking activities. Women were more likely to do educational activities and indoor games, while men were more likely to do outdoor games and offsite activities. These results do not show a split in typically gendered activities (if this were the case it would be expected that women volunteered for cooking more frequently), but there are gendered activities. Women were more likely to do educational activities which generally involve more work and preparation while men are more likely to volunteer for offsite activities such as bonfires, walks or swimming – physical activities which are often more popular with both young members and volunteers (anecdotal knowledge). 

5.5: Affected by Gender 


The final survey question was “Is your volunteering affected by your gender?” More men said their volunteering was not affected by their gender and more women responded that it was (Graph H). The open-ended qualitative question and the interviews help to understand how people interpreted this question.

5.6 Summary of quantitative analysis

The survey shows gendered differences in volunteer roles taken in WCF. Consistent differences see a higher percentage of women doing domestic labour like buying snacks and packing away, as well as behind-the-scenes admin such as finances or communications. There is also a higher percentage of women doing emotional support. Gendering along more traditional roles is seen in KP or KG with more women working with food and more men doing physical/manual work. The main difference in frequency of activities is in offsite activities, with a higher percentage of men volunteering. A higher percentage of men did not see their volunteering as affected by their gender, in almost reverse to the percentage of women who felt their volunteering was affected. These divisions in labour are small but significant when backed up by qualitative analysis. 
















  1. Qualitative Analysis 

This section analyses the qualitative responses to the survey question “Is your volunteering affected by your gender?” along with the interview data. The responses from the survey influenced the interview questions (Appendix C) and so correspond to similar themes. The survey quotes are distinguishable with the code S (for survey) W or M (woman or man). Additional quotes supporting the themes are provided in Appendix D. 

6.1: Believed no gender differences (Post-Feminism)

Some respondents believed there is no gender division of labour within WCF volunteering. This view was especially prominent in responses from those women who did not see their gender as affecting their volunteering. The following answer typifies this view (See also Appendix D;6.1:1-5):

 “running a group or being district chair or running a camp are not gender specific and people don’t take them on because of gender. …. it would be fair to say all genders do all roles” [Janet] 

The roles are ‘not gender specific’ as illustrated by Janet, so there is no framing of certain jobs as ‘woman’s’ (unlike workplaces where some jobs are framed as female or male, for example nurses and doctors). 

While women referred to equality of support and opportunity while also highlighting gendered inequalities in relation to hidden labour or value of work, as noted later, several of the male respondents expressed the opinion that there are no gender divisions of work within WCF at all. Darren’s response to whether he would classify WCF as a feminist organisation demonstrates this:

“I think that you know we have got women in the top roles in WCF, sharing both the top roles and in fact most of the people I know who are actually employed by the Woodcraft Folk and have senior positions are female…I don’t think WCF actively needs to do anything like positive discrimination or anything like that,…if you look at committees…they tend to be really well balanced without having positive discrimination or gender politics getting involved. So I think that ship has sailed, it is already part of the culture…It doesn’t need to be revolutionary…that has already happened…it has just always been like that.”

The phrase from Darren, “that ship has sailed, it is already part of the culture”, demonstrates a distinctly post-feminist attitude about possible gendered differences within the organisation. Darren referred to not needing processes such as positive discrimination and all-female shortlists. While these methods tackle representation, they do little to address divisions in emotional labour, organisational labour or value of work. 

Regarding implementing gender equality, Chris said: 

“I would be shocked if anyone had any uber-conservative not-liberal views on this…we don’t need to make any efforts as by default we are a tolerant organisation and forward-thinking and liberal-minded and accepting of all differences between people.” 

Once again, this view of “not needing to make any efforts” reflects a post-feminist idea: Chris understands sexism as involving overt and intentional inequality. This understanding fails to consider other forms of gender inequality or discrimination. These statements show the need for more nuanced understandings of sexism and gender inequality.

6.2: Gender inequality exists 

Some respondents asserted gender inequality exists in various forms within WCF. Various inequalities in divisions of labour were raised including extra or hidden labour, emotional labour and value of work. 

6.2.1: Organisational, Extra or Hidden Labour

One of the inequalities raised related to the amount of labour done, either in the sense of knowing what needs to be done and when to do it, or in terms of actively finishing jobs to make sure everything actually gets done. This is typically referred to as organisational labour or mental load. This was referenced in work relating to other volunteers:

“It is often exhausting as….I feel like I am doing a lot of work making other people who have signed up for work actually do what they have committed to” [SW] 

“there is a really big difference between knowing that someone will come and tell you it is time to get ready and between knowing that you have to be the person who has to tell people or they might not turn up.” [Augustine]

Regarding this mental load, women spoke about volunteering situations where the men never seemed to notice jobs that needed doing. 

“Frequently I find myself "filling in the gaps" in tasks…..and a lot of the older men just don't seem to notice what needs to be done.….Generally the women help out and comment amongst ourselves.” [SW] 

Augustine reflected that because the other volunteers did not even see this labour, they felt Augustine was really over-reacting by consistently asking them to help (Appendix D;6.2.1:1). In being labelled as ‘nagging’ when trying to delegate, Augustine is effectively silenced when she tries to share the workload. 

Although this was mainly noted by women, Fred saw this additional responsibility and commented that women were “stepping up into a vacuum of organisation” to do the things that are “dropped or forgotten by a group of people” (Appendix D;6.2.1:2)

As a division in work this should not technically be called hidden labour, as it is not hidden but unnoticed, but it is distinctly gendered. Tidying up, washing up breakfast and helping with dinner were mentioned while others talked about putting away craft activities, getting evening cocoa and helping at bedtime when this was not delegated (Appendix D;6.2.1:3). This labour is often seen as domesticated or reproductive and often falls to women inside the home. The same pattern is seen here in voluntary work. It is referred to as “unlabelled labour” in a survey response (Appendix D;6.2.1:4). Janet brings this up in relation to group nights and Laraine and Augustine refer to it in relation to districts and camps (Appendix D;6.2.1:5-7). 

6.2.2: Emotional Labour

Emotional labour was one area where women were seen to take most of the work. This fell into two categories. The first refers to support and pastoral care for young people and other volunteers. This was reflected in the survey data which showed women to be more likely to offer emotional support in group nights. Claire summarised this succinctly:

“Women just tend to be more likely to be the person that people come to, either for themselves or for other people, from both children and adults who need emotional support.”

It was pointed out that women also do the emotional labour in terms of noticing, thinking about and attempting to rectify gender differences. It was noted that any group experiencing marginalisation or disadvantage bear the brunt of the emotional work to attempt to rectify this, as highlighted by Ginny: 

“Women do a lot of emotional labour thinking about the gender dynamics and people of colour do a lot more emotional labour thinking about race so like everyone probably does some but it will always end up being the people most affected by something or have the most experience of something who end up doing that.”

This is also noted by Fred who brought up the emotional labour involved in thinking about race done by people of colour (Appendix D;6.2.2:1).

A survey response made a similar point:

“One of the big things with (an event) was all the emotional labour afterwards, reflecting on the gendered dynamics within our team which was exhausting work, and frustrating to have to raise these issues with men” [SW]

Anna explained it was exhausting to be constantly aware of, and draw attention to, gendered differences in work:

“sometimes it is more tiring to try and delegate and try to divide these tasks more evenly. Quite often…..I decide just to do things because…..asking people to do them both takes too long and is emotionally draining.”

6.2.3: Value of Work 

Respondents noted a gendered division in the value and recognition of labour. This was first brought up in relation to taking and doing different work:

“I feel as though my male peers only show up to activities where they are highly visible and praised for their work. The emotional labour, the organisational labour and then behind-the-scenes work is frequently left to women and that is unacceptable.” [SW] & (Appendix D;6.2.3:1)

Augustine notes while the women on the team were doing lots of the ‘hidden’ domestic labour, there was an even division of labour for the public aspects. This is more enjoyable, more valued and praised:

 “we did all the prep. We made sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to do but also we did ALL the tidying up. But then when it came to the delivery of the program which is the fun part, but also the most forward facing part, but also where the….praise comes in, where people are like….that was a….really good workshop you did or whatever. That was split in half.” [Augustine]

Claire paints a similar picture with camp dynamics where men do the fun, public jobs while women are doing the behind the scenes necessary work:

“men will do organising or leading a game or something, very keen to lead a running around rowdy game….men are more likely to go and claim the other things and say they have done their bit, but it is playing and it is a fun bit and they don’t realise how much else is happening and needs to be done.”

In addition to taking more valued/enjoyable jobs, Ginny and James both noted a divide in recognition for the same role:

“a recent example with two co-coordinators of a camp and the woman was doing most of the ground work for everything but people would refer to the man as the only coordinator and doing loads of the like public-facing work so people would contact him if something needed doing but it would end up being the woman who sorted it out.” [Ginny] & (Appendix D;6.2.3;2). 

This division in praise was linked by some respondents to gender roles. Ginny mentioned that men looking after young-children received heavy praise and recognition for ‘breaking gender norms’, while Anna and Augustine thought male KPs, while untypical, would get more praise than their female counterparts (Appendix D;6.2.3:3-4). Participants who saw men as getting more praise and recognition for doing a job typically done by women thought men are more likely to be praised in general (Appendix D;6.2.3:5)

6.3: Justifications of the inequalities in labour

These gendered divisions in labour in volunteering with the WCF, seen first in the survey data and expanded upon in the interviews, were understood and justified differently by the respondents. 

6.3.1: Wider Social Structures

Wider structural issues in society, especially in relation to demographics, make it easier for women to volunteer. A few respondents spoke about typically picturing an elfin leader, leading children aged six-ten, as a woman. However, it was also noted by respondents that UK working culture facilitates women to volunteer at these typically late-afternoon groups. This means WCF members in full-time employment (statistically more likely to be men) could find it harder to commit to volunteering in these groups regularly (Appendix D;6.3.1:1-2). 

6.3.2: Natural or Innate Differences

A common justification was that people took on different roles due to nature, either in terms of natural differences between the genders or in terms of personal characteristics. 

Almost everyone said they thought men probably ended up doing more, although not all, manual labour in terms of heavy lifting, putting up large tents or “general lugging things around”. Phil reflected it tended to be men doing the “heavy physical jobs” (Appendix D;6.3.2:1), while Chris noted normally it was men “hulking the heavier equipment around” due to “physical advantage” (Appendix D;6.3.2:2). Both these men saw these divisions of labour as gendered and reflections of natural differences between men and women.

While many female respondents also recognised a gendered divide in physical labour, for them it was less about physical ability but that men were more likely to volunteer for this work:

“it’s quite common that when there’s some wood that needs chopping in the middle of an afternoon in camp there will be a few men who start themselves chopping the wood.” [Marie]

Janet pointed out that men were more likely to see putting up the marquee as work than tidying up breakfast. Ginny saw this divide in physical labour not as natural difference but assumed ability. Men saw themselves as being better or more knowledgeable in these areas. Assuming women to be inferior regarding physical labour was a common thread, referenced in being pushed aside when going to pick up heavy objects. 

Some saw divisions in labour as innate individual characteristics rather than gendered differences, although they identified these as falling along gendered lines. For example, a minority of male respondents reported being less stressed while volunteering than their female counterparts as they maintained a healthy work balance, an ability they thought female volunteers tended to lack: 

“I would say women do more and that is true in wider society but I think from my experience there is definitely some, differences with individuals,…..everyone knows when they need to take a break…..I know I don’t have to like work myself to the bone and I feel like not everyone and maybe particularly women have that same attitude and I wonder why” [Fred]

This idea was repeated by James. Although he is not so sure this is a personality trait of the men, he also did not understand this division (Appendix D;6.3.2:3). When asked to hypothesise about this gendered difference in stress Fred said:

“The expectation on (women) is higher, they have had to consistently do that sort of thing in the rest of their lives, work hard and keeping on doing other jobs to show someone how much they are worth compared to someone that is less than them,….it is sad…seeing them feel they have to work really hard and not enjoy themselves”

Fred’s view hides the gendered division of labour behind “individual” characteristics. Neither Fred nor James had an answer for why the women were so stressed although they identified women as doing a larger amount of domestic or organisational labour. Despite recognising additional responsibilities taken by women, stress was seen as a female responsibility rather than a need for male volunteers to work to ease the burden. This contrasts greatly with women’s understanding of the divide in stress and the contributing labour. Augustine attributed this imbalance to men being able to switch off from their responsibilities in a way women are never able to due to the divide in reproductive and domestic labour (Appendix D;6.3.2:4). Using natural differences or individual characters to explain the gendered division of labour presents it as inevitable, suggesting there is little to be done to correct these inequalities.

6.3.3: Different skills, abilities, experiences

Another justification for divisions in labour was the presence of different skills, abilities or experiences meaning women and men take on certain roles due to their strengths and interests. This explanation for divisions in labour was seen in many responses. 

There was general acceptance that as a voluntary organisation, people were going to volunteer in roles they are most comfortable doing. As Laraine said:

“people split into these roles in the WCF as where they are experienced and confident, as we are a voluntary organisation this is the way it will work,….it would be difficult for people to break out of their habits.”

Chris said they had a long-term female KP due to her experience working in the catering industry (Appendix D;6.3.3:1). Jenny through this could be the reason for more men doing equipment or kit work as they transferred these skills from work while women brought experience from looking after children in the home (Appendix D;6.3.3:2), a view repeated by Phil:

“I think that before people start volunteering for WCF, they have their ability sets…because they’ve got into a job or whatever and there’s people who are more comfortable putting up tents and loading vans and those people tend to be men, and there are people who have probably spent more time cleaning and washing up and those people are probably usually women.”

In both cases the differences are attributed to skills and experience instead of to gender roles. 

Others recognised that skills and interests can be socially gendered. In response to being asked if people fell into gendered roles due to their strengths and interests, Ginny said: 

“why do people take gendered roles? because it is what they are socialised to do.”

Ginny, Anna and Augustine all pointed out that while they took roles they enjoyed, were comfortable in, and played to their strengths, this did not stop these from being socially encouraged interests (Appendix D;6.3.3:3-5). 

6.3.4: Social gender roles

When explaining divisions in labour in relation to pastoral care or odd jobs, lots of women related these to gender roles from the home. 

“….roles were more gendered - with men taking powerful positions in terms of deciding how things are run…We often commented “how come the women have ended up in the kitchen”. I would try to challenge or do something different, but the pattern was hard to break.” [SW]

Jenny thought that women were more likely to be washing down tables after dinner as they would actively go back and look to see if this needed doing (Appendix D;6.3.4:1) and justified this in relation to household work and childcare:

“women tend to be more involved with the children…that transfers over…all those little busy jobs like wiping down tables come much more within women’s roles and they are much more likely to step up and do them.” [Jenny]

Laraine justified this in a similar way when asked why she felt it tended to be women doing “most of the stuff that needed to be done”. She said women are more responsible for and involved in domestic labour (Appendix D;6.3.4:2). 

When asked why women end up doing the majority of the odd jobs such as washing up, Claire pointed out:

“often this is done by the women in their homes as well…..they are conditioned into….thinking about have we got enough milk or what have you, tiny little things like that that add up to loads of work.”

This justification of gendered differences contrasts with views that see this divide as skills and experience, instead of conditioned gender norms. The link between this socialisation and disadvantage in terms of work burdens highlights the presence of patriarchy within the WCF.

6.4: Organisational commitment to gender equality 

When asked if WCF implemented gender equality practically, there was praise for the organisation’s educational sessions. Many referenced the resources on gender roles and inequalities, some reflected on being introduced to feminism in WCF through education and empowerment. However, many of the volunteers said the gendered division of labour undermined the practical implementation of gender equality. 

Janet voiced this split as a division in challenging these inequalities formally, but not informally:

“I run sessions with [13-16 year-olds] about challenging gender roles but then I’m rubbish at camp when I don’t challenge them!”

Anna also referenced the idea of these values being taught in WCF’s educational sessions, but not necessarily enacted within the volunteering. Anna describes this as due to departing from a “base of being good”. This means the commitment to equality is potentially detrimental to implementing it practically as it prevents self-criticism. She recognises the presence of empowerment within WCF as an organisation while suggesting reproductive or domestic labour needs to be recognised as work and spread more evenly for WCF to close the gap between ideology and practice (Appendix D;6.4:1). This idea of more self-reflection in order to implement gender equality as an organisation was brought up by several volunteers. 

A number of respondents recognised gendered divisions of labour as present, but were essentially resigned to them as a part of life or as so monumental it is difficult to change as it involves “fighting against a hugely embedded system of skills and experience” that “won’t change overnight” (Appendix D;6.4:2).

Generally, there was frustration from the female volunteers: 

“we rely on volunteers and on people having the time and energy to volunteer; we rely on women to pick up the slack and that is the truth of it. It wouldn’t work if we didn’t and we feel thankful we have the opportunity but WCF SHOULD TOO!” [Anna] and (Appendix D;6.4:3).

6.5:  Volunteer reactions

While both frustration and resignation to a gendered division of labour within volunteering was present in responses, there was also a feeling of guilt from voicing their experiences of inequalities and their hypotheses behind them. 

Augustine felt that suggesting men do not realise they are working less could be “dramatic” (Appendix D;6.5:1). Jenny said her justifications were generalisations and she should be punished for saying them:

“it could be a gross generalisation that these people just don’t notice what needs to be done….Gross GROSS generalisations, I should slap myself for saying it” 

This is the emotional labour of challenging gender inequalities referenced earlier, yet here it can also be seen in women not wanting to bring up inequalities either because they are worried about not being believed or stereotyped, or because they do not want to upset their fellow male volunteers:

“I am often too scared to tell people about that because I don’t want to come across as like the angry, you know, scorched women. It is hard to bring up because it is easy to be gaslit out of thinking that it ever happened. Also because we like these people, at the end of the day they are lovely people, it is hard to accept sometimes they are doing a shit job.” [Anna]

This is also seen in Jenny’s anecdote about addressing a male volunteer ignoring women. She emphasised how lovely he was and how horrified he would be if he realised his behaviour (despite them calling him out on this periodically), while recognising the sexism in his actions (Appendix D;6.5:2). 

These views show women undermining their own observations as gross generalisations, or through repeatedly affirming how nice and kind these men are. The need to protect male volunteers, while simultaneously identifying gendered inequalities, reaffirms the need for a more nuanced understanding of sexism distinguished from overt sexist views. With an understanding that shows gender inequality to be learnt socially and inherent in all of us, it could be recognised that there can be ‘good men’ and a strong commitment to gender equality, as well as a need to recognise and address a gendered division of voluntary labour. 

6.6 Summary of qualitative analysis

The qualitative analysis shows different experiences in the amount and types of labour by women and men. Female participants mentioned inequalities in emotional and hidden labour as well as feeling under-valued for their work. A distinctly post-feminist attitude was seen in those who did not view labour as gendered within WCF. Participants justified these differences through socialised gender-roles, different skills or abilities, natural or innate differences or through structural factors. These justifications are shown to sometimes invalidate or hide gendered divisions of work which negatively impacts the organisations commitment to equality and female volunteers’ experiences within it. 



  1. Concluding Discussion 

This research used quantitative and qualitative analysis to demonstrate divisions of labour along social roles and in hidden and emotional labour (RQ2). The qualitative analysis provides an understanding of why and how these inequalities occur (RQ2). The themes from the qualitative analysis in relation to the gendered division of labour support the quantitative analysis while highlighting its limitations. The survey results show some differences in the jobs done by women and men, mainly regarding roles such as catering or waste management, but also in emotional support and domestic labour. However, these differences alone were not substantial.

When these differences in emotional or domestic labour and value were examined using qualitative methods, a more in-depth understanding of gendered differences is revealed. As seen in the themes of equal support and opportunity, as well as in the post-feminist attitudes, volunteers did not report overt gender discrimination or hateful sexist views that would exclude women from certain roles. Instead, the experiences of gender inequality show a subtler side of sexism and its workings in an organisation committed to equality. While having the same opportunities as men, many female volunteers report a heavier burden in terms of emotional and domestic labour, while also experiencing less recognition or value for their work. The title quote “if a job needs doing give it to a busy woman” (SW) demonstrates this burden and how these labour inequalities in volunteering often mirror those in the rest of their lives which are shaped by gendered expectations and experiences. 

The inequalities found in this research connect to wider popular attitudes to gender and the persistence of gender inequality in the twenty-first century confirming McRobbie (2007) and Rotole & Wilson (2007). The division of emotional and domestic type work reflects trends in paid and domestic labour, while social gender roles and norms affect what work is done and how it is valued substantiates Eagly & Woods’ (2016) and Acker’s (2006) research. This reveals the presence of the patriarchy in the link between social roles and inequality and verifies its use as a theoretical tool (Smith, et al.,2010). While equality in volunteering cannot be dismissed as a myth given the presence of equal support and the low levels of occupational segregation, there is clearly a gap between the ideological commitments and practical implementation. This gap is seen in more subtle forms of sexism where overt discrimination is replaced by women picking up work that goes effectively unnoticed or undone by men, while receiving less recognition. Instead of these seen as instances of discrimination or sexism, they are presented as due to natural differences or outside abilities and skills and thus presented as fixed and reasonable. 

This research also suggests having a base of equality can limit self-criticism of labour imbalances, supporting research that suggests a myth of equality can prevent the recognition of sexism (Gill, 2002). Not addressing these differences is perpetuated by post-feminist attitudes of sexism as having been solved and contributes to difficulties in addressing these divisions (as doing so would challenge the idea of progress having been achieved). The strength of these inequalities and their justifications within an organisation with a strong history of cooperation and education around these issues shows the importance of critically evaluating commitment. The emergence of ‘purplewashing’ and the mainstreaming of feminism and post-feminism makes it easy to view equality as either achieved or in progress. This research shows inequality could just as easily be hidden.

This dissertation begins to fill the gap in research on the gendered division of labour within voluntary organisations. It demonstrates a gendered divide in the volunteering work within this organisation, reflecting inequalities in other areas of work and gendered differences in social roles. To address these, a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between gender roles and labour is needed, which includes less traditional understanding of labour as either paid or reproductive. The aim should be to achieve an understanding that recognises emotional and domestic labour as valuable work that needs distributing equally instead of being attributed to innate, natural or unchangeable differences.












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Appendix A – Survey Results 

Table A: Survey Descriptive Table


numbers

distribution (% of gender)



Female

Male

non-binary

total

% F

% M

% all

all

41

28

1

70

58.6

40

100

AGE








18-29

14

7

1

22

34.1

25.0

31.4

30-49

15

5


20

36.6

17.9

28.6

50-64

11

13


24

26.8

46.4

34.3

65+

1

3


4

2.4

10.7

5.7

ETHNICITY








White

34

24

1

59

82.9

85.7

84.3

non-white

4

1


5

9.8

3.6

7.1

unspecified

3

3


6

7.3

10.7

8.6

EDUCATION








A-levels or equivalent

1

1

1

3

2.4

3.6

4.3

Undergraduate degree or equivalent

22

12


34

53.7

42.9

48.6

Postgraduate Degree, professional qualification or equivalent

18

15


33

43.9

53.6

47.1

WORK STATUS








Full time education

7

4


11

17.1

14.3

15.7

Part time work

9

6


15

22.0

21.4

21.4

Full time work

17

13

1

31

41.5

46.4

44.3

None of the Above

8

5


13

19.5

17.9

18.6

JOINING VOLUNTEERING








I was/am a young member (woodchip/elfin/pioneer/venturer/df)

21

12

1

34

51.2

42.9

48.6

I joined when my children became members

16

12


28

39.0

42.9

40.0

I joined as an adult volunteer

3

4


7

7.3

14.3

10.0

Other

1



1

2.4

0.0

1.4

LENGTH OF VOLUNTEER TIME








Less than a year

1



1

2.4

0.0

1.4

Between one and five years

15

2

1

18

36.6

7.1

25.7

Five or more years

25

26


51

61.0

92.9

72.9

WCF REGION








Eastern Region

12

13


25

29.3

46.4

35.7

London Region

11

8


19

26.8

28.6

27.1

Midlands Region

3

1


4

7.3

3.6

5.7

Northern Region

3

2

1

6

7.3

7.1

8.6

Scotland

4



4

9.8

0.0

5.7

South East Region

7



7

17.1

0.0

10.0

South West Region


4


4

0.0

14.3

5.7

Wales

1



1

2.4

0.0

1.4




Table B: Descriptive table for the membership data supplied by Folk Office 2020 


Woodcraft Folk Descriptive Table

Numbers

% of members

AGE



Under 18

44

1.7

18-29

354

13.9

30-49

1243

48.9

50-65

591

23.2

65+

133

5.2

Unknown

178

7.0

GENDER



Woman

1534

60.3

Man

926

36.4

Non-binary

12

0.5

Transgender

5

0.2

Prefer not to say

27

1.1

Unknown

38

1.5

Other

1

0.0

ETHNICITY



Asian

28

1.1

Black

5

0.2

Mixed

58

2.3

White 

1357

53.4

Prefer not to say

60

2.4

Unknown

1035

40.7

TOTAL MEMBERS WITH DATA

2543

100.0



Survey results 

Gender

The gender breakdown of the survey participants was forty-one women (58.6%), twenty-eight men (40%) and one non-binary person (1.4%). This is similar to the demographics of WCF volunteers as a whole from the most recent membership data supplied by folk office (Table B). This will not be a perfect representation of the volunteers as not all volunteers will be registered members at this time (membership is renewed yearly). In addition to this the membership data holds a lot of unknowns where people have not supplied their age, gender or ethnicity. From the data we do have, Woodcraft’s registered members and volunteers are 60.3% women, 36.4% men, 0.5% non-binary, 0.2% trans, 1.1% who preferred not to say and 1.5% unknown. The main differences between the survey population and WCFs demographics are that the survey shows a slightly higher percentage of men, although by only 3.6%, slightly less women by 1.4% and more non-binary representation by 0.9%. Comparisons are unable to be made for transgender individuals as in the survey no distinction was made between trans or cis women and men. There was an option for self-identification for gender identity but no-one responded as such. 

Unfortunately, there was only one non-binary response making up only 1.4% of the survey demographic. This thus cannot be used to draw any conclusions or comparisons as there is not enough data. This does not imply that the gendered differences in labour do not include or affect non-binary people or that their results are unimportant or irrelevant. There is simply not enough data from this survey for constructive analysis. Therefore the rest of the analysis will make comparisons between men and women.

Age

The age categories in the survey, while not even in length, correspond to life stages in relation to having children in the UK. This was chosen as the WCF’s core recipients are children and young adults and so lots of the volunteers are parent helpers. Splitting the survey participants this way is most likely to split respondents into volunteers with no children (18-29 age group), no children or younger children (30-49), older children (50-64) and grown up children (65+). These categories are not perfect indicators as there will be members of all of these groups who will not have children and will never had children, or individuals who had children much older or younger than typical. The age distributions by gender are also given in the descriptive table (table A). The significant results are a smaller percentage of men in the 30-49 age group and a larger percentage in the older age groups. This is similar to WCF demographics (Table B) and shows that there are fewer men with small children volunteering than women with small children. This would fit into who typically does the childcare in the UK as it has been shown that mothers are more likely to be looking after small children while fathers are more likely to be working full time and participating less in childcare. This means that mothers are more likely to be available to take their young children to group nights and then help out with the sessions as they could be doing the childcare in that time anyway. There is also a slightly higher percentage of women in the 18-29 age category. This corresponds with studies that show women to be more likely to volunteer in general (Windebank, 2008) as well as more likely to volunteer with educational organisations and with young children (Fyall & Gazley, 2015). The limitations of the age categories, apart from being based on life-stages that assumes having children and having them at a certain age, is that there is no data for volunteers that are under the age of eighteen. Lots of WCFs helpers are between 14-18 however there is no data on their habits. This is because for ethical clearance for the paper it was easiest to concentrate on volunteers over the age of eighteen who could legally consent to their data use themselves.

Ethnicity

The survey allowed for respondents to write in their own ethnicity from which I then grouped the results. Race and ethnicity are separate but often conflated categories. In asking for ethnicity not race, I am attempting to distance this data from constructed and often binary classifications while recognising and acknowledging individuals’ identities that relate to their heritage and upbringing as well as race if they choose. The aim in asking for this identification is to recognise how these identities can intersect with gender identities within labour division and segregation. The majority of the respondents put in White British, White or White European.  There were a number of people who didn’t specify race within their ethnic identity putting identifiers such as British or Human. A minority identified with a non-white ethnicity. I would prefer not to lump ethnicities into groups such as ‘white’ or ‘non-white’ however the presence of only four respondents clearly identifying as another ethnic identity (3 unspecified) means there is not enough data to either separate into more varied ethnicity groups or to analyse labour differences along these lines. However this was brought up in the interviews when talking about other factors that could affect the division and segregation of labour. The dominance of White British does reflect WCF being a majority white organisation seen in Table B where over half members responded as a form of white ethnicity. This data is imperfect however as forty percent of members did not record any ethnicity.  

Education 

The survey respondents were highly educated with 48.6 having an undergraduate or equivalent and 47.1% a postgraduate or equivalent professional qualification. This is in part due to the majority of the survey results coming from the Eastern Region, most likely from Cambridge. This being a University City with a high number of highly educated workers within it, it is unsurprising that when education is examined in relation to region, 70% of Eastern region have a post graduate or equivalent education in comparison to around 35% of the respondents in other regions (Table C). This shows the survey to be not as representative of WCF volunteers as it could be, as the Cambridge volunteers raised the average of those with the highest qualifications significantly. Despite this skewing of the results, there is still a large number of university graduates with the responses. This reflects feelings in the organisation of WCF being majority middle class (anecdotal knowledge). 

Table C: Distribution of educational level in different regions


Eastern Region

London Region

OTHER Regions

A-levels or equivalent

0

0

11.5

Undergraduate degree or equivalent

32.0

63.2

53.8

Postgraduate Degree, professional qualification or equivalent

68.0

36.8

34.6


Work 

The gender distributions between education, part-time and full-time work are relatively even with slightly more women in part-time work. This is expected given that women in the UK make up the majority of part-time workers, connected to gender roles that result in women being the primary carers for children and elderly dependents (Eagly & Wood, 2016; Witz, 2013). When work status is compared within age group, there are significant differences by gender (Table D). This shows a much higher percentage of the female respondents in the 30-49 age group to be in part-time work. This age group is the most likely to have young children which corresponds with the likelihood that it is the women volunteers that are the primary carers. Only half of women in this age group are in full-time work in comparison to 80% of men in the same category. 

Table D: Percentage of each age/gender group in education, full- or part-time work


% in Education

% in Part-time work

% in Full time Work

% in none of these

Female

17.1

22.0

41.5

19.5

    18-29

50.0

28.6

14.3

7.1

    30-49

0.0

33.3

53.3

13.3

    50-64

0.0

0.0

63.6

36.4

    65+

0.0

0.0

0.0

100.0

Male

14.3

21.4

46.4

17.9

    18-29

57.1

0.0

28.6

14.3

    30-49

0.0

20.0

80.0

0.0

    50-64

0.0

23.1

53.8

23.1

    65+

0.0

66.7

0.0

33.3

Joining 

The pathway to joining WCF, either as a young member, with children, as an adult volunteer or other is significant when looked at in relation to age group. When looking only at method of joining by gender (Table A) it appears that a higher percentage of men joined when their children became members. However when this is compared with age group, none of the men in the 30-49 age group, which is most likely to have young children in it, said they joined with children. All of the men who joined with children were in the 50-64 age category at a similar percentage to women in that category. This does mean that they could still have young children or joined with young children, but they are more likely to have joined when their children were older. It is possible however that those who were young members but are now older could have children and have volunteered with them when they were young. Within the women respondents there are a high amount of women in the 30-49 age group who joined with their children, making it very sure that they did volunteer while having young children. This is expected given more women in the survey worked part time in this age category and women in general are more likely to be the primary caretakers for young children. 

Table E: 


% joined as adult volunteer

% joined with kids

% joined as young person

Female

7.3

39.0

51.2

  18-29

0.0

0.0

100.0

  30-49

6.7

60.0

26.7

  50-64

18.2

63.6

18.2

  65+

0.0

0.0

100.0

Male

14.3

42.9

42.9

  18-29

14.3

0.0

85.7

  30-49

20.0

0.0

80.0

  50-64

15.4

69.2

15.4

  65+

0.0

100.0

0.0


Regions

The distribution of survey responses is highly concentrated in Eastern Region, especially in the male responses. This is because as a young member of WCF I belonged to Cambridge district in the Eastern Region and so more people responded to the survey as they know and wanted to help me. There was also the added help that, while the survey was on the website and Facebook group, in Cambridge it was also sent via the district email circulation which is more noticeable and accessible. This makes the survey less representative in terms of regional distribution however it could make it more representative in terms of volunteer commitment. Those who participate in a research survey from the Facebook group or website are more likely to be the most ardent and involved volunteers in woodcraft folk who do high amount of frequent volunteering. However the familiarity and easier access to the survey in the Cambridge district is likely to have encouraged a number of volunteers who are perhaps less heavily involved but volunteer at some group nights, events and camps. Their presence within the survey could give me a more accurate representation of gender differences in labour than if the results were solely the most committed volunteers. 


Appendix B: Interview participants

Table F: Interview Participants 

Name

Age Category

Gender Identity

Claire

50-64

Female

Ginny

18-29

Female

Augustine

18-29

Female

Anne

18-29

Female

James

18-29

Male

Fred

18-29

Male

Chris 

50-64

Male

Jenny

30-49

Female

Darren

30-49

Male

Janet

50-64

Female

Phil

50-64

Male

Marie

50-64

Female

Laraine

50-64

Female


My interview participants were not as varied as I would have liked. This was in part due to time limitations meaning that I was reliant on interviewees responding quickly and being available. I reached out to a number of people in the 30-49 category who did not get back to me in time resulting in less representation of this age group. This is understandable as the interviews were set up in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and individuals had other commitments. I also had a no show for one male participant which is part of the reason the uneven gender distribution. 












Appendix C: Interview Questions

Interview Questions 

Consent sheet 

  1. Introduction 

    1. How old are you?

    2. What is your gender identity?

  2. Volunteering habits

    1. What aspects of the woodcraft folk do you/ have you volunteered with?

      1. Group nights

      2. Camps/residentials

      3. Boards/committees

    2. How long have you been volunteering with the WCF?

Going to be approaching the interview with two themes and how your gender might affect some of these different aspects of volunteering; the first is about roles and the second is around labour that doesn’t fit within set roles 

  1. First looking at roles:

    1. Do you feel like there is the opportunity and support for anyone to take any role?

    2. Do you tend to take on the same or similar roles? Is this because of habit and experience? Because no one else wants to? Because of gender? 

    3. Do you take on more public roles or behind the scenes roles? Do you feel like different people take more public roles or behind the scenes roles? Why? Do you feel like this is gendered?

    4. Do you feel like you take typically gendered roles while volunteering in the woodcraft folk? Why do you think this is? Do lots of people take gendered roles? Is this due to their personal strengths, interests and abilities? 

  2. Next we are going to be looking at jobs and tasks or ‘unseen labour’ that might fall outside roles or jobs 

    1. Thinking about other types of labour that goes on while volunteering in the woodcraft folk, can you identify any examples? When are these done? By who? Why?

    2. Thinking about organisational labour, can you think about who does this kind of labour in woodcraft? Why? Do you think you do more or less organisational labour? Or different types? Do you think this kind of work gendered?

    3. Thinking about emotional labour, who does this kind of labour in woodcraft? Why? Do you think you do more or less emotional labour? Or different types? Do you think this kind of work gendered?

    4. Thinking about manual/physical labour, can you think about who does this kind of labour in woodcraft? Why? Do you think do more or less manual labour? Or different types? Do you think this kind of work gendered?

    5. Do you feel like you take on a larger amount of labour while volunteering than others? Why do you think this is? Do you think this is affected by gender?

    6. Do you feel like different work/labour is valued and praised equally within the woodcraft folk? Do you think different praise is given depending on who does this work? Why do you think this is? Do you think this praise is gendered?

    7. Have you ever felt advantaged or disadvantaged in any way while volunteering with the woodcraft folk due to your gender?

  3. Reflecting on the organisations commitment to gender equality 

    1. How would you describe WCFs ideology as an organisation?

    2. Do you feel like the ideological commitments to gender equality are implemented practically? Why? 

    3. Do you think the ideological commitment to gender equality affects the visibility of gendered inequalities? Does its commitment make it easier or harder to notice/ call out inequalities?

    4. Do you think Woodcraft Folk is actively unteaching gender norms? If yes, how, if no, should they be?

    5. Do you feel like Woodcraft folk should be doing more as an organisation that is commitment to gender equality? 

    6. Do you think woodcraft folk is a feminist organisation? 

  4. Reflecting on other factors that could affect the labour balance and segregation of roles in the woodcraft folk

    1. Are there any other factors that have affected the labour balance and segregation of roles in the woodcraft folk for you?


Appendix D: Supporting quotes

Supporting quotes and quotes referenced in the main document are in this table. Section corresponds to the section in the main dissertation (E.g. 6.1: Believed no gender differences). The number corresponds to which reference it is referring to, when multiple quotes are supporting the reference in the document it is referenced (Appendix 4;6.1:1-4) referring to section 6.1 and quotes 1-4. The quotes are either said by an interview participant (name given) or a man or woman survey respondent (SM or SW respectively). The quotes referenced here are selective and not exhaustive of the themes they reference, they are to back up and support the main dissertation’s findings. 

Section 

Number

Said By 

Quote

6.1

1

SW

“I feel I can do whatever role I want and no one would challenge it based on gender”

6.1

2

SW

“Personally felt well supported to take on roles I have wanted to”

6.1

3

SM

“I don’t feel my options in volunteering have been limited because of my gender”

6.1

4

SM

“the activities I have been involved with have all at some time been organised/carried out by folk of other gender(s) with no obvious bias.”

6.1

5

Claire

“woodcraft in general, and my district, are great at supporting and training people to take any roles”

6.2.1

1

Anna

“If you don’t want to end up doing that then you have got to be the one because you have seen that labour you have got to be the one to regulate it, you have got to be the one who makes a tidying up rota and then you have to be the nagger who goes and tells everyone that now we have to go and take turns tidying up and everyone is like oh but we are cooperative you know, and of course if you don’t see that you feel like someone is really going over the top when someone tells you we should take turns”

6.2.1

2

Fred

“I think that largely is done by women within wcf, yeah. I think that, um, I don’t really know what else to say, I think it’s a very important point, but I like, I don’t know what more else to say about it, it’s like yeah one of those forms of hidden labour that goes unsung and its quite easy to confuse peoples stepping up into a vacuum of organisation as someone taking an organisational role and I think those things are quite often confused. And like, rather than somebody being elected into a role or um, yeah rather than a long thought out process of someone achieving all of these responsibilities, when it’s like all of the things that are dropped or forgotten by a group of people that’s what I’m thinking about when I think about this question. Then, yeah, largely I’d say a lot of that is done by women”

6.2.1

3

Claire

“men will do organising or leading a game or something – very keen to lead a running around rowdy game. Meanwhile women will be making the coco, getting the elfins to bed, tidying up or tidying the craft tent etc – some extent with roles. Tidying the craft tent could go with the program role, often go to women, but also women often doing the tidying but or if extra tidying up women will go do that or help someone else doing the tidying or some other behind the scenes jobs.”

6.2.1

4

SW

“I feel like I've done a lot more emotional and 'domestic' type labour, from conflict resolution to cooking. I feel like I've done a lot more labour in general, I think women and nb (non-binary) people tend to volunteer for these types of responsibilities. I feel like there is a lot of unlabelled labour that goes on, ie not in official roles, or outwith the remit of those roles, that's done by women” 


62.1

5

Janet

“I guess even sort of when we’re tidying up at the end of a group night, it’s not that the men are unwilling to take on tidying up tasks they just don’t necessarily see it.” 


6.2.1

6

Laraine

“In the two districts that I have been involved in as an adult it tended to be women who did most of the stuff that needed to be done.”

6.2.1

7

Augustine

“there are like small acts of volunteering, so like say you are on a camp and no one showed up to dinner clan and you are like oh fine I’ll do it”


6.2.2

1

Fred

“I think being a person of colour has (affected division of labour for me), I think there’s like a lot of emotional labour to be done with other people of colour and with like white people, explaining all of that stuff to them and there’s like emotional labour but there’s also like always being involved in anything people of colour and feeling like tied to that cause and just having to be involved in everything there, on every level.”

6.2.3

1

SW

“Also with (an event) it was very noticeable that the roles the women on the team were doing were the essential ones, and without us doing them the camp literally could not have happened, and the men were doing the more showy roles that didn't need to be done and then still making more of a deal about how busy they were”

6.2.3

2

James

“on a camp there were two coordinators of similar age, constantly people would say to me and to others on the coordinators team, ooh the man has done a really good job hasn’t he, isn’t he great or you would see people come up to him and like laugh and smile at him all the time but people wouldn’t even know who the women was because she was doing behind the scenes work, not that this was admin, it was running around sorting things out”


6.2.3

3

Augustine

“100% if a man did KP everyone would be like OMG what a difficult role you have taken on that must have been so hard for you well done…I would be impressed if a man took on KP, like that is the truth of it isn’t it, it is also internalised isn’t it” 


6.2.3

4

Anna

“oooh do you cook at home as well? I bet they would get asked that”

6.2.3

5

Claire

“That’s just something that’s really common in life”

6.3.1

1

Chris

“I dunno, have men had the time, and this I guess a matter of debate, to be able to take part in activities without their children? Whereas I suspect that the large number of elfin leaders that are female, I suspect a large number of them came because they came with their children, I was very lucky when I moved back from X to X my wife was a nurse and because she had a much more formalised career structure than I did, I was able to take the time to stay at home and look after the first two of my three children and because of that I was always the one who took them to toddler groups and that sort of thing which in itself had some amusing moments and gender based moments but urm, obviously the vast majority of of the adults that were female.”

6.3.1

2

Darren

“I think you are probably right about that one, I feel quite lucky I am able to take the time off at 3 oclock on a Tuesday to be able to spend time with the elfins and do the group and a lot of people cant do that. I suppose it is more common for the mother to take time off from work to look after the kids, I suppose so. From that perspective yeah I guess that is probably why theres more female influence and certainly the people with those roles have got kids and have technically put their careers on the back benches to look after the kids. I guess in other districts there is quite a strong male influence on certain roles but with us there isn’t one. But yeah we are a relitevly small district so some people wear lots of caps and I guess they send to be the more kind of fundamental roles you know the behind the scenes stuff that people don’t see so the behind the scenes stuff the coordination and the treasurer stuff is pretty much filled by women, although in fairness that wouldn’t bother me as I wouldn’t want to be a treasurer or a coordinator!”

6.3.2

1

Phil

“(with) different people taking different roles I think that the main thing is that it tends to be the men that are doing the putting up the marquees who are doing the heavy physical jobs but even that is mixed and does involve everyone.”

6.3.2

2

Chris

“hulking the heavier equipment would normally be done by a male but then other aspects like, urm it will be a fair division but yeah like the gas safety there are normally a couple of people one that who are both males. I cannot think of any concrete examples but it doesn’t sound unrealistic that one of the women would shout guys go and pick this up or talking to the men go and grab the kitchen tent that sort of weighs half a ton you know so urm yeah I would think that is pretty much only the division and that is only based on physical advantage rather than it consciously being a male or gendered thing”


6.3.2

3

James

“There was a divide in stress levels between the women and the men on the team and it was a thing that was noticed on camp, and the amount of work that was being done by the women was fantastic and they were working all the time and they were asking for help and most of the time it was being given but I don’t feel like it was particularly a trait of the men of that group to be particularly laid back, but the bottom line is that we weren’t stressed, we weren’t as stressed on the camp as most of the women were and I think it’s mainly because we were able to detach ourselves from work when we needed to – I don’t have an answer, but that was definitely a thing that was evident.”

6.3.2

4

Augustine

“I feel with male counterparts they find it easier to switch off from their responsibility, maybe because they are able to do that in their life or they have role models who are able to do that in their life, like maybe they see that, like you learn that early on don’t you: who gets up in the night to do the work, who gets to go to the work thing and who gets to look after the kids, and who does some helping and then goes back to watching tv and I mean I am making a lot of assumptions here but you know you can imagine that people might have experienced those roles in their life and maybe not even noticed that the other role is even happening.”

6.3.3

1

Chris

“I suspect, when I look back at things like camping and so on, our district has usually, or the camp chiefs that I remember (that is the language that I still use) have predominantly been female. Possibly the equipment people have tended to be male. KPs pretty much an even mix, I’ve been KP and our current standard district KP is a male but actually it has tended to be on people that have experience in those areas. We had a long period where we had a long standing female KP but she worked in the catering industry so she you know.”

6.3.3 

2

Jenny

“I think some of it is about skills people bring from work. I think a lot of men come with a skill set that involve technical kinds of things, we have had various builders and electricians and things and I guess what you are outside WCF is a huge influence in what you contribute within it and a lot of women when they get involved are bringing their own small children, and we have had the odd dad who has been the one who has brought the kids every summer while mums working particularly when dads are teachers you know but overwhelmingly I think summer camp is very often women with younger children and so we fall into the jobs that are easier to do that don’t involve sledge hammers and gas.”


6.3.3

3

Ginny

(after saying yes that people took gendered roles, was asked do you think this could be down to peoples personal strengths and interests?) “So like no not really, like no because of their gender match gendered interests, like they could but that isn’t just their interests, so then why do people take gendered roles? Just because it is what they are like socialised to do.”

6.3.3

4

Anna

(Division due to strengths and interests or gender roles?) “mmm I don’t think you can differentiate, like obviously I cant speak for everyone but even if I were to do a role that was typically understood as masculine I would probably feel like I am doing that as a reaction.”

6.3.3

5

Augustine

“Yeah I think you have to look deeper don’t you, our interests come from how you have been socialised”

6.3.4

1

Jenny

“If you are looking at the person who thinks it might be worth washing tables down after dinner I think that is much more likely to be a woman than a man, but yeah, not necessarily but I think those kinds of general cleany upy kind of jobs are much more likely to be the kind of thing women might do after a meal, they will go back and look”

6.3.4

2

Laraine

“I think that is drawing quite a lot on women in the home, and even though men might look after children it still tends to be the women who arranged the play dates and makes sure there is food in to eat and those sorts of things and I think it is just a role that women do naturally in life, women in a family situation where you actually, because women have more responsibly on the whole for childcare and make sure that everything runs well under the surface and men might look after the children but women will still be very much involved. That is my personal experience and I am not saying that will be the case in every family and in every district, there may be districts that are run by men” 


6.4

1

Anna

“I think that there is certainly an attempt to include these values in WCF’s educational program and activities in general, but I think that there is a lack of self-criticism, we don’t do enough auto-reflection. We don’t look at the way we function, we don’t look at the ways we interact with each other because we part from the base of being good. And that doesn’t allow us to be self-critical and that is hugely problematic because a lack of self-criticism reproduces the status quo and the status quo is that women take on a lot more work than men do. WCF is very good at empowering women, it is good at empowering women to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do, it is good at giving women opportunities. however it is not good at doing the opposite which is inviting men to take on reproductive labour, and when you don’t do both at the same time it ends up burdening women double because now we are not only expected to do reproductive labour we are only valued through our productive labour as well. So we become invisible and tired. And because it is not an exchange for men, they just continue doing things like were you know making that movement without dropping the other stuff, so in order to actually practice a more gender equal way of doing things/model, we need to do both. Men need to start doing the invisible jobs. We need to start valuing reproductive labour and until we do that we are never going to get there, whatever we teach, it is no good empowering women if we are not empowering men to do things that women are doing”

6.4

2

Laraine

“they are fighting against a hugely embedded system of skills and experience that makes it difficult to deliver that completely but I do think that it is conscious of itself being a gender-equal organisation and I think people do make efforts to try to deliver that but you are not going to change the outside world overnight”

6.4

3

Ginny

“like it is frustrating that there is a gap between what it is ideologically committed to and then what it is in actual, like there should be more channels for reflecting on it and trying to live up to the ideologies it’s got, given it’s got them”

6.5

1

Augustine

“all that work as always been there but loads of people don’t realise it as they go their whole lives not doing it. And they will go their whole lives not doing it in other contexts as well like you know they won’t realise they have to clean up after themselves because maybe their mum’s done it and then their girlfriend’s done it or whatever, and maybe that is a bit dramatic but if really feels like that sometimes.”

6.5

2

Jenny

“I can remember somebody who I work with who I have immense respect for, he is very very good at what he does but who has a tendency to regard what women are saying as slightly noisy. So he will say things you know, I had a tent that broke once and I said what I need is for some way of splinting this broken tent pole up until, I am thinking about putting something on it, ridged and he is going no no I don’t think that will work and then his 15 year old son appeared over the horizon and said yeah what about if we put a spoon there and gaffataped it and I went oh yeah what I described and yeah he immediately went like oh yeah that could work! And there have been several incidents like that with him and I always say did you hear my voice, you did hear that, and he is totally oblivious and if you tell him he is always horrified at the thought and we all know if we were to tell him he would be mortified at the thought that he is, you know ignoring what women’s voices say, so you know we do challenge him on it periodically. Equally we snigger behind his back sometimes because we have all known him for so long and it is so transparent”




 


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