Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices

Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices

Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices

Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices

Synopsis

Globalization is not a new phenomenon; women throughout the world have been dealing with circumstances and consequences of an international economy long before the advent of the transnational corporate conglomerate. However, in a mercenary example of the tired cliche "the more things change, the more they stay the same," women-particularly those of color-continue to be relegated to the lowest rung of the occupational ladder, where their indispensable contributions to global market capitalism are downplayed or invalidated completely through the perpetuation of stereotypes and the denial of access to better job opportunities and resources.

Excerpt

This book offers an insightful collection of cross-disciplinary essays by women of color scholars based in the United States and West Africa. These chapters address the myriad ways in which the work opportunities and experiences of women of color illustrate how gender, ethnicity race, class, and nationality affect the power dynamics of the global economy. This represents the culmination of a collaborative research project between historians, sociologists, anthropologists, legal scholars, cultural critics, and artists intending to build upon the successes (and even occasional disappointments) of a preceding working group, “Meanings and Representations of Work in the Lives of Black Women” (BWW). Seeking new intellectual possibilities and challenges, the “Meaning and Representations of Work in the Lives of Women of Color” (WOC) research seminar explored ways to better understand how the work lives of diverse groups of women of color intersect and differ and, moreover, how globalization and immigration affect the life courses of women the world over—including our lives as scholars responding to these occurrences and attempting to affect social justice for impoverished and disempowered workers.

I would like to thank all of the “senior” and “junior” women scholars who participated in the Ford-funded “Women of Color and Work Research Seminar,” from 2002-2006, and our Ford Foundation project officers, Irma McLaurin and Gertrude Fraser. Support from the Ford Foundation and recommendations from my University of Maryland (UMD) colleagues allowed me to invite as participants some of the most established female labor scholars in the United States whose research analyzes work in the lives of Afro-Cuban, Latina, Asian, Caribbean, African American, and white women. The inaugural meeting, hosted in 2002 by the African American Studies Department (AASD), at UMD's campus in College Park began like those of BWW, with expressions of shared gratitude for the still seldom opportunity for women of color scholars to gather for ongoing intellectual dialogue, and then was almost immediately followed by the sharing of personal narratives of discriminatory and unfair treatment in the hallowed halls of many American universities. While laughter followed stories of being mistaken for a member of the custodial staff or routinely being enlisted to serve in the role of nurturer rather than colleague, they also provoked sadness among us as the experiences proved common to the point of cliché. Nevertheless, such awareness that women of color (consistently more so than men and white women) continue to be underestimated and disrespected provided additional incentive for us to . . .

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