From 'work-family' to the 'gendered life course' and 'fit': Five challenges to the field

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48 Scopus citations


This article introduces the concepts of the 'gendered life course' and 'life-course fit' in order to provide a broader, dynamic, and contextual perspective on the match or mismatch characterizing the social environments confronting workers, their families, and their communities. It summarizes five challenges confronting scholars of community, work, family, and policy: (1) updating outdated concepts and categories; (2) incorporating the gendered life course and family strategies to improve fit; (3) recognizing social change; (4) seeking work-time policy transformation, not simply assimilation or accommodation; and (5) focusing on prevention. In doing so, it provides a very brief history of the work-family intersection from a US vantage point, along with an overview of organizational response by employers to the 'work-family' conundrum. There is a growing recognition that a sense of fit or misfit in terms of rising temporal demands, limited temporal resources and outdated work-hour constraints on workers and families is increasingly a public health issue. The next step is for employers and policy-makers to break open the time clocks around paid work - the tacit, takenfor- granted beliefs, rules, and regulations about the time and timing of work days, work weeks, work years, and work lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011


  • Fit
  • Gender
  • Life course
  • Organizational change
  • Work-family

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