Third World Women in Factories
There is a debate among feminists as to whether industrialization is "good for women." Industrialization offers the chance for at least some women, especially poorerwomen, to get out of the home, to break away from the stifling constrictions of domestic patriarchy. For example, while working in a textile mill (in Massachusetts, Manchester or Hong Kong) may bringhardship, it does offer women the opportunity to join a larger collective of workers and to earn wages independently. Some observers of the influx of Third World women into factories in countries suchas Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, El Salvador, Tunisia and Brazil mix their short term worries about the exploitative working conditions these women endure with a longer-term faith that suchemployment eventually will spawn women's liberation.
Other observers are not so sure. When they look at how women are recruited into some factories but not others and into some jobs but not others, they seethe patriarchal restrictions on women's capacity to control their own lives being merely modernized, not overturned.
Factory Women in the Third World - Why now?
The creation of a Third Worldfemale industrial work force "took off" in the 1960s and by the 1980s was a major phenomenon in dozens of Asian, Latin American and African societies. The timing can be traced to a convergence of anxietiesin the minds of different groups of men.
First, the executives of certain types of manufacturing companies began to worry about the increasing unionization of their own previously unorganized womenworkers and the consequent pressures for better working conditions and more reasonable wages. These companies operated in some of the most intensely competitive industrial sectors and survived bysubstituting cheap labor for expensive equipment. Top priority was given to minimizing labor costs. In fact, minimizing labor costs was the chief reason why factory workforces were women in the first...
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