Women and men have been found to enter the labour force in different ways, and on different terms, not only in Tanzania, but worldwide. Differences are found between women and men, as well as among different groups of women (rural-urban; rich-poor; educated - noneducated) and men.
Certain kinds of work have been stereotyped as being ‘male’ or ‘female’, because of the socialization process on the division of labour which stipulates different roles for men and women. Most rural women carry water, firewood and farm produce on their heads, take care of children, cook and farm.
Gendered assumptions, however, contribute to a process whereby most women are allocated low paying, unskilled or lesser skilled work in both the formal and the informal sectors of the money economy. The terms upon which women and men compete for employment are set by wider social relations, including cultural, economic and political arenas. These include the assumption that a woman’s primary commitment is to care for a family at home, in the ‘reproductive’ sphere of life; and that each woman depends on a male provider for cash needs.
The skills label itself is usually arbitrary, and culturally defined. Skills associated with women tend to be undervalued, and defined as unskilled, even when they entail complex actions and thought processes, such as child care, subsistence farming, agro-processing and the like.