Counting Working Women in France: The Figures Are Political
Recognising a given activity as professional work or otherwise is a political decision. It is not possible, therefore, to count the number of working women in the twentieth century without taking into account the history of these figures. Once farm or factory workers, often paid on piece rates, today almost all wage-earners, women have achieved visibility on the employment market, as well as independence and qualifications. But changes in definitions and concepts can create ‘statistical optical illusions’, which can cast certain women into the shadow of ‘inactivity’. Thus, in 1954, numerous female farmers disappeared from the statistics. More recently, the limits of unemployment and the boundaries of underemployment have particularly affected women.
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