Exploring 'troubling care': Research perspectives on women's care work

During an International Women’s Day 2024 webinar event, La Trobe University delved into the critical role of women’s paid and unpaid work in the care economy with special guest Dr Pat Armstrong.

La Trobe University’s Care Economy Research Institute (CERI) and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society (ARCSHS) hosted a thought-provoking ‘In Conversation’ webinar with international guest Dr Pat Armstrong, a distinguished Research Professor in Sociology at York University, feminist political economist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Watch webinar

CERI stands as Australia’s first institute dedicated to comprehensive care economy research – its mission is to break down silos within the health and social care sectors. CERI aims to co-design and implement innovative services across all care economy domains, including care delivery, economics, social policies, care experience, technology, and workforce dynamics.

ARCSHS is a leading Australian research centre specialising in sex and sexuality studies. Collaborating with researchers, communities, organisations, and government bodies, ARCSHS aims to advance knowledge in the field and promote positive change in policy, practice, and people’s lives. Notably, ARCSHS is one of four national centres contributing to Australia’s response to HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmissible infections.

Professor Kate Seear, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and the Deputy Director of ARCSHS, led the conversation with Dr. Armstrong, shedding light on how best to use women’s experience of care work to address the key challenges and opportunities post-Covid.

Dr. Armstrong’s insights and thoughts on the critical role of women's paid and unpaid work in the care economy were invaluable to those attending the webinar. She emphasised that the labour of women, particularly in care work, often “disappears and is rendered invisible” when it comes to cost and recognition.

With experience spanning academia, community engagement, and policy advocacy, Dr Armstrong calls to action “to make this stuff visible to people and then get them together to try and do something about it”.

As we reflect on this enlightening conversation, it is clear that women’s care work remains both essential and undervalued.

Dr. Armstrong highlighted that “working in coalitions is absolutely critical”. She stresses that “there are a whole number of ways we can work on it on a daily basis to try and educate people about how important this sector is”.

Looking Ahead

The fascinating anecdotes from Dr. Armstrong’s extensive career challenges us to rethink our approach to care, recognising its transformative potential. Let us continue to advocate for policies that value caregiving and build a more compassionate and equitable society.

To learn more about the Care Economy Research Institute, visit the institute website or email ceri@latrobe.edu.au

Quick links (as mentioned in webinar)