Gender division

Saturday, 7 November 2020

My name is Aggie Taylor and I have just written my undergraduate dissertation: ‘The gendered divisions of labour within voluntary organisations with a commitment to equality: An in-depth study of the Woodcraft Folk’.

I have grown up through Woodcraft, starting as an elfin and participating more or less consistently until I aged out of DFs, and I have since continued as a volunteer. Woodcraft Folk has given me a huge amount: opportunities, the wonderful friendships I have formed, and also, through the values it encourages, personal development. However while I love volunteering with the Folk and want to give back to the organisation I have grown up in, I noticed that I was coming away from events drained and frustrated mainly in relation to my experience volunteering as a woman.

This experience was shared and voiced by a number of my peers and we found that we were all disappointed that an organisation built on cooperation, equality and friendship could have such unequal gendered divisions of labour.

My aim in my dissertation was to examine if there is a difference in the kind of voluntary work or roles done by volunteers of different genders. In order to do this I did an online survey and then in-depth interviews with a variety of Woodcraft members. The survey allowed me to use quantitative analysis to examine the jobs and roles done by volunteers, and then the interviews explored these differences in more depth, while suggesting possible explanations.

My findings showed gendered divisions of labour similar to those found within public institutions and the home. To some extent these reflect the socialisation of gender and the unequal structures of society. An egalitarian organisation like Woodcraft has to work harder to combat these forces in order to live up to its ideals.

I am now sharing my results with The Woodcraft Folk in the hope that they will be of interest to our members, and could also be useful in the examination of our organisational working practices.

My dissertation focused on the contrasting experiences of volunteers that identified as men and women. I would have liked to have been less binary within my research however I only received one non-binary response and so there was not enough data for me to examine this angle.

This dissertation was supervised by Jonathan Moss from the University of Sussex Politics Department.

Read the dissertation here

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