New Zealand's women working free? : a decade of change.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis examines the effects and impacts of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 on women in non-standard from 1991-1999 in New Zealand. It addresses the need for qualitative research that gives voice to the experiences of women in non-standard work. The research model developed in this thesis is informed by feminist methodology. It is argued that the traditional methods of recording employment statistics and of conducting survey interviews do not account for the personal experiences of the respondents. This study combines three techniques: analysis of published literature, analysis of employment statistics and in-depth qualitative interviews with six women in non-standard employment. Examination of the political context of the enactment of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 highlighted varied expectations of the legislation. Political parties, feminist researchers and interest groups differed in their assessment of the implications of the Act for women in non-standard work. The study compares these views with statistical data and the findings of interviews with women in non-standard work. It is argued that the Act has had a significant effect on women. The flexibility of employment created by the Act has enabled women with young children to work by lifting the constraints on time, as well as the responsibilities of child-care. However, flexible working hours imposed significant constraints on women's private time and the results of the interviews suggest that the affects of the Act are different for women who no longer require flexibility in work in order to work around child-care responsibilities. In conclusion, this discussion gives a new perspective to the study of the effects of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 by supplementing analysis of political debate and statistical records with opportunities for ordinary women workers to reflect on their experiences. This indicative study provides a basis for further research in this area.