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This paper examines the gender order that operates in rural areas of Australia, ensuring that women are accorded secondary status, that their contributions are discounted, and that their concerns are trivialized. Women are disadvantaged by patriarchal gender relations that dominate rural society and that are reinforced by ideologies of family and "wifehood" holding women accountable for domestic household labor. Interviews with 64 farm women in New South Wales revealed the large economic contributions of farm women in the areas of unpaid domestic work, unpaid farm labor, volunteer work in rural communities and schools, and paid off-farm employment. Yet, these extensive contributions are often negated, depicted as merely "helping out." Women are also seriously affected by the fact that rural society is disintegrating in many areas. Rural communities are becoming depopulated, rural services are closing, employment opportunities are contracting, and the standard of living is reduced. In such an environment, there is great pressure on women to work harder in all areas of their lives. Major issues and concerns for rural women include the scarcity of employment opportunities, lack of child care, loss of health care services and other community services, stresses on mental and physical health, need for increased access to continuing education, worries about the use of chemicals in agriculture, and inadequacy of the social security system for farm families. A number of strategies are suggested to address the concerns of rural women. (SV)

Descriptors: Employed Women, Farm Labor, Foreign Countries, Gender Issues, Housework, Individual Power, Rural Family, Rural Farm Residents, Rural Women, Sex Bias, Sex Role

Autor: Alston, Margaret


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