Caroline Gatrell, Lancaster

An expert in the sociologies of health, work and family defines the term pregnant presenteeism

Dr. Caroline J Gatrell, Lancaster University Management School

Every week a business school professor, an expert in his or her field, defines a key term on FT Lexicon, our online economics, business and finance glossary.

Our professor this week

Caroline Gatrell is senior lecturer at Lancaster University Management School, in the UK, where she is also director of doctoral programmes.

Dr Gatrell’s research centres on sociologies of health, work and family. Her primary research interests focus on how the reproductive labour of parenting connects with the productive labour of employment. From a sociological perspective, Dr Gatrell explores how working parents (mothers and fathers) manage their health, their work-life balance and the health and nutrition of babies and infant children. She has recently developed a new concept, Maternal Body Work, to describe how pregnant women and new mothers combine the labour of managing maternity according to health advice, while comporting their bodies appropriately in their workplace settings.

Caroline is the author of two research based books on parenting and work: Hard Labour, the Sociology of Parenthood and Work, and Embodying Women’s Work, both published by Open University Press. Her work is also published in key academic journals including: Human Relations, Social Science and Medicine, International Journal of Management Reviews; International Journal of Human Resource Management and Gender, Work and Organisation.

Dr Gatrell has chosen to define the term pregnant presenteeism.

Why Dr Gatrell believes it is important to understand pregnant presenteeism

“I have chosen to talk about pregnant presenteeism because it describes the tensions faced by employed mothers who are trying to be good mothers while at the same time striving to do their best at work, where they want to be seen as reliable employees,” says Dr Gatrell.

She says her research on pregnant presentees is a part of her wider research project on a new concept which she has termed maternal body work – in other words, the labour undertaken by pregnant women and new mothers as they try to follow health advice as best they can, while also performing well at work.

“I think it is important to bring these issues into the open as they are often not discussed, with mothers too afraid of losing their jobs to admit to feeling ill or under pressure,” says Dr Gatrell.

To view Dr Gatrell’s definition click on the linked terms.

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