Conjugal negotiations in the couples of “qualified women” in France

Laure Moguérou, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Michèle Ferrand, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

Demographic researches study the schooling of women indirectly, across its effects on other traditional spheres of the discipline (fertility and mortality) : school attendance (and qualifications) postpones the entrance in couple and seems to play a role on the number of desired children and on the future of the family group. Transformations that they induce on gender, though considered as a main point of the mechanisms of reproduction, are still only seldom questioned. Sudies in France showed that getting in couple is always followed by a specialization of the roles of men and women, and this specialization increase after the birth of the children. And while motherhood can mortgage the professional career of the women, fatherhood reinforces the professional positions of the men. Even if the participation of the men lightly increased in 1980s, 80 % of domestic job is taken by the women. The domestic space appears so as the epicenter of the so called masculine domination. Assuming that qualifications are for women some personal assets to be emphasized in comparison with those of the spouse, this paper intends to analyse conjugal negotiations in the couples of “qualified women” in France. We will work on the basis of several statistical survey (EFE which collects most of its data from a couple perspective, that is, the respondents are more likelly to be couples; and ERFI, French part of the Generation Gender Survey, where respondents also give informations on their partner if they have one). We will also use interviews that we had with very qualified women and their as-well very qualified spouses. We questioned how two people having the same schooling qualifications (and probably the same aspiration to make one’s carreer) handle with reconciling of the conflicted interests that are career and family.

Presented in Session 34: Her Career and His: Men and Women Labour Force Participation in Europe