In the Guardian, Rose Hackman writes about gendered expectations and emotional labor. That is, keeping track of the wants, needs, and preferences of those around us while we navigate the world, personally and professionally. Hackman writes that this is a form of unpaid labor that most often falls into the hands of women, both personally at home, and professionally in "female-identified" jobs.
Also, it's interesting to read these thoughts in a publication as widely circulated as the Guardian, as mere years ago discussions of emotional labor would probably not be considered a mainstream concern. (Despite, you know, half of the world's population being female.) Should we thank social media for raising consciousness about this?
Check out the excerpt below, or full piece here.
In a work context, emotional labor refers to the expectation that a worker should manipulate either her actual feelings or the appearance of her feelings in order to satisfy the perceived requirements of her job. Emotional labor also covers the requirement that a worker should modulate her feelings in order to influence the positive experience of a client or a colleague.
It also includes influencing office harmony, being pleasant, present but not too much, charming and tolerant and volunteering to do menial tasks (such as making coffee or printing documents).
Think of air hostesses, which was one of Hochschild’s main examples in 1983, having to cater to clients’ needs with an accommodating smile and a sympathetic ear, no matter how tired or disgusted they are by a vomiting child or a sleazy business class male customer.
Think too of the female politician, who is expected to be likable and fun, as well as intelligent and capable (if this rings a bell, it’s because Hillary Clinton’s aides are urging her to show more humor and heart).
Think of your morning Starbucks barista, who drew a smiley face on your cardboard cup of coffee this morning. Did she really want to go the extra mile today, or was it just part of the job expectation?