standard employment relationships and in different types of contingent
employment varies considerably, with women predominating in some
types of precarious work in some countries. In Canada, for example,
women are more often in part-time work, less often in seasonal work
and more often self-employed with no employees (Fudge and Vosko,
2001; Cranford et al., 2003; Conseil du statut de la femme, 2000). Policy
applicable to specific types of contingent work, including part-time
work (Heide, 2001) may be a surrogate for gender-based policies and
should be scrutinized as such.
While women's claims for industrial disease are sometimes greeted
with scepticism (Reid et al., 1991, Lippel, 2003), it has been shown that
women workers with claims for musculoskeletal injuries profit greatly
from organized support groups (Bueckert, 1999).
Special treatment for women?
The persistence of the sexual division of labour and of discriminatory
practices raises the question of whether women should receive special
treatment in occupational health and safety law. International bodies
such as the ILO have declared themselves to be opposed to legislation
purporting to protect one sex, since such legislation in fact results in
inequities for one or both sexes. For example, legislation in Europe
and North America preventing women from working at night did not
prevent women from night work in traditionally female professions
such as those in health care, but it did block women from well-paid
jobs in the industrial sector.
In fact, sex stereotyping in the labour market usually results in increased
risk to the health of both women and men. Risks in sex-specific jobs
may be regarded as trivial for either sex. For example, it may be seen
as appropriate for men in some countries to over-exert themselves in
sex-stereotyped heavy physical labour, or for women to carry extremely
heavy loads of water and firewood in other countries.
in the labour mar-
ket usually results
in increased risk to
the health of both
women and men