Elaborating the Ideological and Structural Content of Women's Work in a Globalized Economy

By Lu, Jinky Leilanie | Journal of International Women's Studies, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Elaborating the Ideological and Structural Content of Women's Work in a Globalized Economy


Lu, Jinky Leilanie, Journal of International Women's Studies


Abstract

Women's employment in the global market now has been increasing as a result of globalization and internationalization of labour. This study has two main objectives in its attempt to analyze the relations of gender, the global market, and health in the workplace. First, the article tries to elucidate the structural content of work as seen in the work organization; and second, to elaborate the ideological content of work as defined by ideologies of the organization, of the state and of the market production system. The study used quantitative methodology through surveys of 630 women workers in 23 establishments, as well as qualitative methodology using 10 interviews and focus group discussions. The study showed that assembly line work was also reported to be boring, fast-paced and requires upskilling regularly. Most of the respondents (76.3%) did overtime work. Quantitative overload was significantly related to a number of symptoms of psychological health issues such as poor work motivation, low self-esteem, absenteeism, and tardiness. Women workers were exposed to heat (58%), intoxicating odors (42.8%), noise (33%), and other hazards at work. The more work specific health problems of the women were body aches (73.5%), eye problems (36.5%) and urinary tract infection (32.1%). The study showed that ill health under a global economy results from the impact of measures designed to enhance the profitability of capital- from shiftwork, overtime, apprenticeship, homeworking, subcontracting, teleworking, part-time work, and piece-rate work exposure to dangerous chemicals, industrial injuries, stress, or a damaged and polluted environment. This study tried to develop additional theorizing on the relations of women, global market and health using health sociology and medical anthropology.

Keywords: Women Workers, Global Market, Occupational Health, Information technology,

Introduction

The analysis of women's paid work is becoming an increasingly important task because of the rise of women's employment in contemporary times in the Philippines and Asia in the late 1970s. Ong in 1987 noted that during the past quarter century, there is a rise in female labour participation even in countries that traditionally did not allow their women to work outside the household (Pyle, 1983; Hein, 1986; Ong, 1987; Feldman, 1992).

Women's work has coincided with the intensification of global market participated by various nations through economic and legal means. This analysis has come to include information technology which is one of the most significant features of women's work in the 21st century. This study has tried to discourse on several concepts pertaining to women's contemporary work, such as: What is the impact of information technology (IT) on women's employment? Is IT related to job losses and job creation, job satisfaction, job control and social relations of work, and skills and training? Is there job expansion, multiskilling, more work integration and coordination between assembly workers, or fragmentation of work, and overload? (Hill, 1981). The legal and socio-economic benefits given to multinationals are based on the premise of creating more jobs and employment. But does the woman's job reflect her opportunities- or lack thereof- in relation to technologies which are viewed to promote development? (Dauber, 1981). Information Technology (IT) was launched as an offshoot of the new demands of the global labour and global market (Frobel, F., et. al., 1980; Webster, 1996). The relocation of manufacturing industries to low-waged and poorer nations has been pursued for several reasons. For one, labor is cheap with relatively good pool of trained and semi- skilled employees. Second, following the prescriptions of the World Bank, the developing nations provide legal and structural benefits for multinational investments such as unlimited repatriation of profits, reliable transportation and telecommunications, infrastructure, tax holidays, and lifting of trade barriers like quotas and tariffs (Webster, J. …

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