Gender Realities: Local and Global: Volume 9


Table of contents

(14 chapters)


Pages v-vi
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Pages vii-xiii
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Volume 9 is a collection of advances in gender research from various parts of the world. The papers document the types of work in which women engage, and gender equity issues they face. They show the importance of considering the uniqueness of cultural contexts for understanding and resolving problems, but they also show how global interdependence affects local gender realities. The papers in this volume fall into two broad and overlapping categories: gender, work and development, and gender and discrimination.

By synthesizing case studies on the informal economy throughout the world, I show that women and men specialize in different tasks, work in separate settings, and have differing access to positions of economic power in the informal economy. Moreover, women are more likely than their male counterparts to seek employment in the informal sector. I also explore why gender segregation is such a marked feature of the informal economy by examining characteristics of the informal sector that encourage such gender segregation including the relationship between the informal and formal economies and the social status of informal work.

This paper explores some gendered impacts of resettlement in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). Based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Lesotho, Southern Africa, I use a feminist political ecology framework to analyze the ways host and settler communities negotiate development-induced resettlement and how resettlement conditions (re)produce gendered social interests in the context of the LHWP. While material losses are typically compensated during resettlement, the non-material, psycho-social aspects of loss do not get compensated. After resettlement, however, it is the unpaid, uncompensated community work of women that offers opportunities for adjustment into the new communities.

The authors use Agarwal's (1992, 1997) research methodology for analyzing the intersection of gender, poverty and the environment in rural India and apply it to the case of fishing communities in Newfoundland. Here too, environmental degradation, “statization” and privatization of hitherto public resources, as well as technological development, and erosion of community management systems, effect similar adverse consequences on women. In both cases the effects are magnified by a retrenchment of liberal ideology that shrivels state social programs. We find the devaluation of women's fishing knowledge, their decreasing health and general nutrition, and the gendered nature of financial and temporal-spatial stress are associated with these larger trends.

This paper explores the relationship between gender and the origins and implementation of federal welfare aims in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. It is argued that women's groups played a significantly less direct role in the establishment of federal social insurance and social assistance programs in Puerto Rico than on the U.S. mainland. Early 20th century Puerto Rican feminist and other groups dedicated to the welfare of women and children were subsumed in political parties and their conflicts about the Depression-era quest for economic relief and later U.S.-supported economic developmentalism.

To what extent do couples expect to retire together? What distinguishes “atypical congruent” couples who expect to retire separately? What distinguishes “non-congruent” couples who disagree on retirement plans? Using U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data, we find that “Atypical Congruent” (separate retirement) couples have shorter marriages, larger age differences, unequal decision-making, dependent children, and pension plans for both husband and wife. They are also more frequently interracial or minority couples. “Non-Congruent” couples (who disagree on retirement plans) are distinguished by wife's earnings and husband's occupational status and work schedule.

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The desire to be part of the new global economy is prompting many countries to challenge long-standing patriarchal assumptions and addresses the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. The state of sexual harassment policy in any country allows them to be classified into tiers, depending on the degree to which the country is confronting the issue of sexual harassment. Tier I countries are simply not dealing with sexual harassment. The primary distinction between Tier II, III and IV countries is the degree to which they are addressing the issue. The non-inhabited Tier X classification would represent an idealized, gender-egalitarian workplace.

Academia remains a male-dominated occupational realm, even though women have made great gains as actors in higher education. The interconnections of work-related and family-related discrimination experiences and work-related and family-related support are analyzed, drawing on over 100 semi-structured interviews with and written accounts of academic women in 11 Finnish universities from all major disciplinary fields. Finland provides an interesting research context, characterized by relatively high gender equality in both academia and society more generally. Exploring academic women in this setting reveals several paradoxes, namely those of: feminization of academia; family-friendly policies; academic motherhood; and academic endogamy.

This chapter provides a qualitative analysis of 40 immigrant women's labor force experiences in the Maritime provinces of Canada (the Maritimes). The framework of analysis is feminist and anti-racist and the point of departure is the immigrant women's own perspective. Immigrant women feel marginalized in the labor markets of the Maritimes, despite their qualifications, past work experience and willingness to work, as a result of specific systemic barriers they face in employment. Some of these barriers affect immigrant men or native-born women as well. Immigrant women, however, are affected, in addition, by the multiple and mutually reinforcing interactions of these barriers. In this chapter we examine immigrant women's strategies to overcome the systemic obstacles of the labor market.

Using survey data from the 1993 Wilson Task Force on Gender and Equality in the Legal Profession and qualitative data from in-depth interviews with female law professors, we examine the social basis of professional authority in Canadian law school classrooms. Our quantitative and qualitative findings are consistent with classic sociological work and contemporary anecdotal accounts that suggest women experience greater difficulties achieving professional authority. In the law school classroom, however, we find that stratification within the profession and stratification within the knowledge base further undermine the professional authority of female law professors.

It has been argued that providing girls equal access to schools will remedy many social and economic problems, but much of the research regarding girls and schools fails to consider participation in schools within the context of gendered institutions. Failing to recognize gender as an institutionalization of power perpetuates inequalities, particularly in the context of schools. This article examines the complexities of gender inequality within schools in a Nepalese village. I discuss how gendered socialization patterns within the gendered institutions of family and school constrain students, especially girls. Gender, however, is socially constructed and fluid; it can be negotiated and changed.

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Autumn Behringer has completed her Ph.D. at Purdue University and started a position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Weber State University in the fall of 2004. Her research centers largely on the study of gender, intimate relationships, and social inequality. Her dissertation is a symbolic interactionist analysis of marital communications. She has a chapter, “The Meaning of Husband and Wife: Spouses’ Perceptions of Marital Labels,” forthcoming in Couples, Kids, and Family Life (Oxford University Press).

Subject Index

Pages 303-306
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Publication date
Book series
Advances in Gender Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN