This chapter focuses on the experiences of mature age women in Australia’s aged care sector and how their retention in paid work is affected by both their unpaid care roles and the physical demands of aged care work. The chapter adopts a feminist economic theoretical frame, conceptualizing aged care workers as decision-makers who are influenced by social norms about the undertaking of paid and unpaid work and the relational ties with others. The chapter utilizes data collected from a large-scale survey of women employed in the Australian aged care sector, together with transcript data collected through an embedded programme of in-depth interviews with a selection of survey participants. The chapter’s findings highlight: the high level of intention to leave aged care work by mature age (45 and over) women aged care workers; the key role played by the physical demands of aged care work in influencing mature age women’s decisions to stay in or leave aged care work; and mixed evidence on the effect of informal care roles on the intentions of workers to leave the aged care sector. Key words: aged care, Australia, feminist economics, mixed methods.
Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp, Therese Jefferson and Rachel Ong
Therese Jefferson, Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp, Rachel Ong, Valerie Adams and Gill Lewin
This chapter describes the development and implementation of a mixed methods research project that was designed to investigate the characteristics and experience of women aged 45 and over working in the Australian aged care sector. The key issue of interest is whether these workers planned to remain in or leave employment in the sector. This study utilizes an embedded mixed methods framework of enquiry, utilizing secondary data from a large national survey, organizational employment data, purposefully collected survey data, and semi-structured interview data collection and analysis. This framework captures the potential of quantitative data to identify national patterns of mature-age women’s employment, the employment decisions made by aged care workers at an organizational level, and patterns of employment exit and retention by aged care workers at an industry level. Individual qualitative data provide insights into the experiences of the aged care workers within specific institutional contexts.