Gender Unlimited discusses career and care

During international women’s day, Gender Unlimited festival takes place again in the Faculty Club. This year, the theme is ‘Sustainability in Career and Care’, with special attention for people who combine work and the care for someone else, other than their children.

“Traditionally, women take on the major part of care for others. Organizations are set to fit that tradition. This model is starting to wrench,” says Marloes van Engen, senior gender policy advisor. “More women want to work and more men want to provide care, but gender norms impede that. The government asks us to participate and take care of ourselves, but policy makers did not give the implications of that enough thought.” Van Engen organizes the annual Gender Unlimited festival, this year together with Academic Forum, PMC, and TRANZO. The theme is ‘Sustainability in Career and Care’. She says: “It is often still ‘not done’ to ask your boss if you can work part-time as a man. Apart from that, women who want to work fulltime hear the question ‘what kind of mother are you?’.”

Bending gender norms

The term ‘care’ is not just limited to care for children, Van Engen and student assistant Floor van ‘t Ende say. Because of the self-reliance society asks of us, more and more people take care of family or other loved ones. Van Engen: “Usually, daughters and daughters-in-law will be the ones to do this as well. Moreover, unlike the care for children, this kind of ‘informal care’ is a taboo subject. In 2014, 33 percent of Dutch citizens took care of another person to some degree, but it is not at all embedded in the labor system.”

“This kind of ‘informal care’ is a taboo subject”

During Gender Unlimited, students, employees and scientists from all over the world will explore the theme and talk about gender norms. “We do not want to say ‘we know how people are supposed to do it’, but we want to show that gender norms exist and cause problems for people. It is better to create a good work culture, instead of creating more rules.” Keynote speaker for the festival is sociologist Mary Blair-Loy, who wrote the book Competing Devotions: Career and Family among Women Executives. She will speak about bending these gender norms.

Research agenda

Journalist and author Asha ten Broeke is moderator and Rector Emile Aarts kicks of the festival with a speech. There are workshops, and student associations will perform in between. The best contribution gets a prize. During a ‘small group meeting’ in the morning, scientists from all over the world come together to determine the international research agenda. Van Engen: “They can start research associations during those meetings, in the past this has already led to a research article.”

Van ‘t Ende says that Gender Unlimited is still searching for students who want to speak about being an informal caregiver. “People who are taking care of someone else are often pitied. We want to speak to people about this image.”

Bekijk meer recent nieuws

Schrijf je in voor onze nieuwsbrief

Blijf op de hoogte. Meld je aan voor de nieuwsbrief van Univers.