Family organisation in a gender perspective, especially how women’s emancipation affected their societal status and position within family, is another key area of research for our group.
Women’s work is particularly difficult to find evidence of in historical populations. Therefore, parish registers needs complementation with other sources, such as newspaper ads and articles, court material, business statistics and employment registers. When women appear in other contexts than the family, which typically characterises the parish registers, we are able to depict their gendered occupations with significantly improved precision.
Theoretically, the extent and type of women’s work are considered as a key to their degree of autonomy; a question debated in gender studies today is how and why. Some scholars argue that women’s inclusion in the labour market stimulated their family building. Others suggest that female workers postponed or tried to avoid family formation, since they did not want to jeopardise their job or autonomy. The gender perspective applied in our project will consequently focus on women’s life-courses, in terms of inherited characteristics, social status, fertility and health. How did these factors influence their occupational strategies, autonomy and gendered family position? Even though women are formally emancipated today, they still face difficulties when trying to combine an occupational career with family life. Their proportion in low status and lesser-paid jobs are also proportionally higher. Understanding their past strategies is therefore important. It will put choices of modern women and their increased interest in obtaining individual careers, in an historical context