Work–family Management among Low-wage Service Workers and Assistant Professors in the USA: A Comparative Intersectional Analysis


*Sociology Department, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA 92096, USA, e-mail:


Noting an inattention to the specific ways in which class, race, and gender combine to affect work–family management, we conducted a qualitative exploration of the processes of intersectionality. Our analysis relies on two points on a continuum of class experiences provided by two groups of predominately white female workers: low-wage service workers and assistant professors. Drawing on in-depth interviews with each group, we examine the similarities and differences in their experiences of negotiating their work worlds as they tried to meet family demands. We focus on the ways in which class and gender interacted to shape these women's everyday lives in different ways. While we found that women privileged by class were privileged in their abilities to manage work and family demands, we also found that class shaped the gendered experiences of these women differently. Our data suggest that, in the realm of work–family management, class mutes gendered experiences for assistant professors while it exacerbates gendered experiences for women working in the low-wage service sector. Our analysis not only highlights the importance of considering intersecting hierarchies when examining women's lived experiences in families and workplaces, but provides an empirical example of the workings of intersectionality.