Date of Award
Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours
Faculty of Education and Arts
Dr Elizabeth Reid-Boyd
Child care workers seem to have been forever assigned the lowest rung on the career ladder. Their low status has been attributed to several intractable factors: the socially devalued 'caring' nature of the role; the relatively small, disparate and non-hierarchically structured workplace; intimate association with an increasingly more marginalized group - children in their early childhoods; and an assumed complicity with a pseudo-surrogacy role of mother rendering them transgressors within a pro-natalist landscape. The institution of exclusive maternal care, for children prior to school, holds fast against the inexorable call for women to paid work. This dilemma resonates strongly within 'skills starved' economies facing diminishing birth rates. Whilst undeniably denigrating views of child care work persist in a sector buffeted by competing economic and cultural imperatives for child care provision, the voice of the predominantly female (97%) child care worker herself remains mute. This research seeks to explain how the voice of the child care worker lies baffled under a layered mantle of discourses. Uncovering how she has been named and marginalised provokes emancipatory imaginings of being heard and reinscribed. A feminist autoethnographic approach is adopted to investigate and interpret the researcher's experience of working within this fraught role. A metaphor of a handmaid subject-hood, constituted by a dissident relationship to motherhood and sisterhood within an ostensibly post-patriarchal state is appropriated to frame a disruptive analysis of the child care worker's occupation in (re) productive work for broader society.
Whitty, K. A. (2007). An other(ed) handmaid's tale : Child care workers: seen but not heard. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/1289