workers, is to reproduce the racially structured labor market and class structure
that discriminates against minorities and immigrants. Another effect is that
within the workplace, racial categories and racism become tools for management
to divide and control workers. These are dynamics that individuals and organizations interested in social change must become more familiar with--not just in Silicon Valley but elsewhere. As for the situation in highly "innovative" Silicon
Valley itself, to date, neither labor, women's, nor ethnic organizations have made
major inroads in challenging the hiring hierarchy ( Hossfeld 1991). But challenge
it we must. Equality of opportunity, both at work and away from it, cannot be
achieved unless we learn to recognize and reject practices that are based on "simple formulas" about gender, race, and nationality.
1. As many recent scholars and activists have noted, the term "Third World" is problematic and imprecise. Yet so, too, are currently available substitute terms such as "postcolonial," "industrializing," and "developing." For references to the terminology debate from a
feminist perspective, see Mohanty,
Torres, 1991. In this article, the term "Third
World immigrants" refers to individuals who have migrated (in this case to the United
States) from world regions with a history of colonial domination. 2.
Statistical references in this study have not been updated to reflect the 1990 census because the research was conducted, and refers to conditions, during the 1980s.
3. These production jobs include the following U.S. Department of Labor occupational
titles: semiconductor processor, semiconductor assembler, electronics assembler, and electronics tester. Entry-level wages for these jobs in Silicon Valley are $4.00-$5.50; wages for
workers with one to two years' experience or more are $5.50-$8.00 an hour, with testers
sometimes earning up to $9.50. California Department of Employment Development 1983. 4.
This is especially true of Asian communities. The Vietnamese, for example, have
founded several business associations, and own several blocks of businesses in downtown San Jose. Hispanic groups have a much smaller business ownership base, although there is
a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the area.
For a more extensive discussion of how gender ideologies are used as the basis of both
labor control and labor resistance in this work force, see Hossfeld 1990.
The student team was composed of University of California at Santa Cruz undergraduates, aged eighteen to twenty-five.
In Silicon Valley, the low proportion of Black workers correlates to the low proportion
of Blacks in the overall county labor force, 3.11 percent.
Japanese Americans are among the top income earners in the United States, while
Blacks and Hispanics are among the lowest in income. For evidence that Japanese and
other Asian Americans have had to work harder for relatively lower economic status than
Whites, see Woo 1985.
For discussion of how immigrant women workers resist managers' efforts to use
racism and sexism as forms of labor control, see Hossfeld 1990. For discussion of barriers
to labor organizing around these issues, see Hossfeld 1991.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Race and Ethnic Conflict:Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence.
Contributors: Fred L. Pincus - Editor, Howard J. Ehrlich - Editor.
Publisher: Westview Press.
Place of publication: Boulder, CO.
Publication year: 1999.
Page number: 177.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may
not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.