Women’s work is a term used particularly in the West to indicate work that is believed to be exclusively the domain of women and associates particular jobs with women. It is particularly used with regard to work that a mother or wife will perform within a family and household.
The term may be pejorative, when applied to men performing roles which are largely designated for women.
The term “women’s work” may indicate a role with children as defined by nature in that only women are biologically capable of performing them: pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
It may also refer to professions that involve these functions: midwife and wet nurse. “Women’s work” may also refer to roles in raising children particularly within the home: nappy changing and related hygiene, toilet training, bathing, clothing, feeding, monitoring, and education.
It may also refer to professions that include these functions such as that of teacher (up to the age of puberty); nurse, governess, nanny, care worker and au pair.
“Women’s work” may also refer to roles related to housekeeping such as: cooking, sewing, ironing, and cleaning. It may also refer to professions that include these functions such as maid and cook.
Though much of “women’s work” is indoors, some is outdoors such as: fetching water, grocery shopping or food foraging, and gardening.
When they leave the domestic environment “women’s work” has usually been involved with the low-status microprocesses of textiles production (Spinning the yarns, weaving the yarns, sewing the material and selling the clothes); secretarial work (typing, shorthand, telephonists, accounts, post office); the production of miniature components (micro-chips, valves, cogs, wheels); women were supposed to be the insignificant and inconspicuous, invisible and unconnected element, kept apart by demands of home, family and husbands, isolated in this way they couldn’t organise themselves into communities, unions or pressure groups after the fashion of men.
Middle-class jobs like teaching and nursing were “women’s work” but working under the guidance of patriarchal hierarchies like doctors, headmasters and managers.
The guerrillas in their midst were missed, ignored or overlooked, those apparently well-behaved creatures who spent their time making lists, detailing procedures, typing, sorting, coding, folding, switching, transmitting, receiving, wrapping, packaging, licking the envelopes were thinking all along.