Check out Sarah Jaffe’s recent piece for Dissent on Trickle-Down Feminism. She rightly points to the absence of mainstream feminist discourse about low-wage work and labor organizing of service work. Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and Christina LaGarde at the IMF are role models to be sure. But reality is that most women are working in the growing field of low-paid service work, often caring labor.
This work is systematically undervalued because of the cultural association with women’s work. Jaffe interviews Ai-Jen Poo, the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who notes that “All work is gendered. And the economy that we have assigns different levels of value based off of that.” As this work remains a crucial part of the economy, ensuring that this work is stable and fairly paid is both a feminist issue and a labor issue. These industries will continue expand and provide increasing job opportunities for women. The feminist movement and labor movement must work together to ensure that these jobs are valued and respected by organizing these workers and changing the discourse of the value of caring labor. Jaffe does a seamless job of tying together these issues and the article is worth a read or two.