Expressing anxiety? Breast pump usage in American wage workplaces

Boswell-Penc, M. and Boyer, K. (2007) Expressing anxiety? Breast pump usage in American wage workplaces. Gender, Place and Culture, 14, (5), 151-167. (doi:10.1080/09663690701562248).


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This article considers the potential and problems for women seeking to combine breastfeeding with wage labor outside the home through the use of breast pumps. After locating the breast pump within cultural, historical and legislative contexts of shifting views about infant nutrition on the one hand and trends in women's participation in the wage work force on the other, we unpack how this technology has re-shaped the landscape of choices about infant feeding in the United States. Using disciplinary lenses of science and technology studies, feminist geography and women's studies, we examine how the breast pump has reshaped workplace experiences after childbirth. Based on interviews and survey data with respondents in Albany, New York across a range of class and racial backgrounds, we submit that while the breast pump does allow some women to combine breastfeeding and wage work outside the home, the advantages of breast pumps are constrained both by cultural attitudes about pumping as an activity, the lack of a sufficient legislative framework, as well as by the way workplaces themselves are designed.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/09663690701562248
ISSNs: 0966-369X (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: Wage workplace, lactating body, breast pumps, infant feeding decisions, work/life balance
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Geography > Economy, Culture, Space
ePrint ID: 56895
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2015 02:46

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