Call Center Work, Women and Family

Those working on the night shift (42.6 percent)13 are unfortunately deprived of spending quality time with their families and loved ones. The women feel the tension between balancing their role as family members on the one hand and as call center workers on the other, because traditional Philippine society expects them to attend family gatherings, care for their children and manage the household.14 As a single mother, Cris hardly see her kids on regular days. “When I arrive, they are about to leave for school. When I leave, they are getting ready to go to bed.” Anning needs to work doubly hard to support her kids and her ailing mother. The only time she can afford to spend with her family is during her day off.

Up until today, the Church implicitly maintains that the man is the primary breadwinner and the woman is mainly responsible for the care of the children at home. In the words of John Paul II “to take up paid work outside the home is wrong from the point of view of the good of society and of the family when it contradicts or hinders these primary goals of the mission of a mother” (LE 19). Indeed, the task of childrearing and care should not be abandoned. However, this teaching can put an additional burden of guilt on women call center workers like Anning and Cris, who are trying to earn a livelihood for their families.

It is a challenge as well for call centers to respond to the needs not only of the mothers but also of the fathers in their companies, who have children to take care of. Feminist scholars argue that masculinity and domesticity do not have to be mutually exclusive:15 “[M]othering is not a gendered act, but rather an interactional relationship that is just as likely to be performed by participative fathers, both single and married and that men can be mothers too.”16 There is a need for the Church to highlight the importance of parenting as something a mother and a father do together.

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