Why Interns Being the 'Housewives of the Working World' Isn't a Good Thing
4 months ago
They're overworked and undervalued
With women increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners —53 percent as of July—one could argue that housewives will eventually become extinct. Or at least replaced with someone else. Maybe they will take their role from the home into the office.
In a recent Dissent magazine article, Madeleine Schwartz suggested that unpaid interns are like homemakers —"compliant, silent and mostly female, the happy housewives of the working world."
"At work, they occupy desks recently occupied by laid-offs," she wrote. "They file papers, get coffee, and try to make themselves noticed, but not too much so. One of the intern's great skills is not to cause a fuss, not to raise any trouble."
Many unpaid interns are dissatisfied even if they don't show it. Last year, a former unpaid intern of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar filed a lawsuit accusing its parent company, Hearst Corporation, of violating federal/state wage and hour laws by not paying her even though she often worked there full time.
But with internships crucial to landing a job, many students believe they have no choice but to work for free. Securing a job was among the top 10 reasons students do an apprenticeship, according to a 2007 Intern Bridge survey of 12,000 interns. Other reasons included building their resume, learning new skills and making connections.
"Internships are a savvy way to get a foot in the door, but because interns tend to be female, there is a double whammy in effect," said Shira Tarrant, associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at California State University Long Beach.
Marianne LaFrance, a professor of psychology and women's and gender studies at Yale, calls it an unfortunate situation.