Gender Roles in Economics

Stereotypically, man is the main breadwinner working outside the household, whereas the woman is in charge of children and household chores. Deviations from this norm are often viewed negatively. A working woman may imply that the husband is not able to provide, which, in turn, can be viewed as a detraction of his honor (Melhuuss, 1996, p. 245). There are pejorative terms to describe men doing household chores, like mandilón (apron-wearer).

A growing number of women now engage in wage labor. The economic activities of women are increasingly important for the survival of the household (e.g., González Montes, 1994; Pagán & Sánchez, 2000). Nevertheless, these women are often viewed as marginal (Chant, 1997). If women work outside the home, they are generally paid less and their jobs are considered less prestigious than those of men (e.g., Benería & Roldán, 1987; Brown, Pagán, & Rodríguez-Oreggia, 1999; Howell, 1999; Rothstein, 1999). Aside from work in export manufacturing, women often work in commerce, such as making and selling food. Other domestic tasks are also done by women for income generation, such as washing, ironing, and sewing (Chant, 1997). Besides engaging in paid employment, most women are expected to undertake a major share of the housework (Bennett, 1995).

The division of labor by gender is also reflected in international migration strategies (Massey, Alarcón, Durand, & González, 1987, p. 199). Most migrants to the United States are men, yet a growing number of mainly young and childless women have started to migrate internationally. Nevertheless, the majority of rural women stay in Mexico. Duration of time in the United States varies according to the aspired aims. Given that most of this migration is illegal and therefore that crossing the border is costly, migrants often stay for several years. Migration is directly linked to the life cycle (Massey et al., 1987, p. 200). Often the process starts when men are young and unmarried. After marriage, many men stop migrating but start again with the arrival of children. In older age and when the children are grown up, international migration is normally ended.

Female migration generally takes place within Mexico. In rural areas, it is common for unmarried women to migrate to urban areas to work as a muchacha (maid). A high proportion of women work in tourism and in "maquiladorized industry" (e.g., Kopinak, 1995, p. 30; Tiano, 1994), which is characterized as employing mainly unskilled assembly workers not organized in unions.

Within the ejido system, mostly men hold land titles (Brunt, 1992, p. 78). Thus inheritance of land is predominately patrilineal and all sons may be heirs (González Montes, 1994). For a family's house, ultimogeniture is widely practiced (Robichaux, 1997). In urban areas, both daughters and sons may inherit property, yet there is often a bias toward male inheritance (Gutmann, 1996, p. 73).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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