What is the Value of Care Work?

In preparation for this week’s #3Wedu I read about the double bind, emotional work and other issues women face at work. The thing that rose to the top for me is the lack of respect “care” gets. As soon as we label something it creates an “us” and “them”. If “they” (women with children) get to take maternity leave, then the rest of “us” have to fill in for them. If “they” (women with children) get to leave work early because their child has an appointment or play, or can’t travel, the rest of “us” have to be flexible with our schedules. Tracy posits that companies should have care leave rather than maternity or paternity leave. There are many things in our world that need care. Surely, caring for our own children, who are future citizens is a priority. What about encouraging workers to care for the environment, or children in a foster home, or the elderly? What if you could take care leave to do something that was deeply meaningful to you?

While on the surface this may seem like it would decrease productivity, studies show that allowing people time to do personally meaningful work increases motivation and productivity. How would the culture where you work change if your organization valued care work?

Tracy, S. J. (2008) Care as a common good. Women’s Studies in Communications, V31(2). http://www.sarahjtracy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Tracy-Care-as-a-common-good.pdf