November 2023
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Word Wiz: Emotional Labor

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

In sociologist Arlie Hochschild's 1983 book, The Managed Heart, she coined the term emotional labor. Forty years later, Rose Hackman published her own findings on the concept and its effects across the workforce.

In Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work Shaping Our Lives and How to Claim Our Power, Hackman describes emotional labor as the work people do to edit their emotions on behalf of others. She equates that work to other forms of labor (intellectual, physical, and creative) in how much effort and skill it takes to perform correctly.


In a 2023 conversation with Greater Good magazine, Hackman explains that workplace power dynamics cause emotional labor to fall on those in an inferior position. Unfortunately, that can disproportionately affect women. American Progress's The State of Women in the Labor Market in 2023 highlights that, although women's employment has reached pre-pandemic levels, women are still paid less than men. Women between 25 and 54 years old earn 16 percent less than men, putting women in the position of the invisible and uncompensated work of emotional labor.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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