The Third Shift: Paid Work, Care Work and Education

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)

Work Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Natalie Jolly

Second Advisor

Emily Ignacio


This paper explores how women’s current status in the workplace and the often unequal distribution of household labor are interrelated. Specifically, focus is placed on how women’s paid and unpaid labor is influenced by gendered expectations and economic factors. It is found that women who work for pay are impacted financially by wage penalties and parental discrimination. At the same time, the tendency for women to do more unpaid labor than men further detracts from paid work, especially for women who serve as primary caregivers. While changes in policy and law present a practical and effective solution to these problems, such action is still very much needed. Therefore, increasing access to education for working mothers is urgent. It is argued that education can limit wage penalties and decrease work-family conflict brought on by unpaid labor. Consequently, this paper includes a content analysis of the promotional material of 10 universities to assess the availability of resources designed for student parents and to measure the extent to which these universities represent the student parent identity. This exploration provides the foundation necessary for understanding which resources are lacking and which resources universities can establish to provide greater access to education.