In recognition of International Women’s Day, we share just a small sample of our women authors’ work and how they have helped to make our world a better place through their scholarship.
Tessa G. Diphoorn, author of Twilight Policing: Private Security and Violence in Urban South Africa, speaks of her experience as a female researcher and how gender overall plays a role in the private security industry in Africa.
In the course of my research, the two aspects of my identity that appeared most prominent were race and gender. I was repeatedly reminded that I was a wit stekkie–slang for white woman–which was further affirm
ed by the ascribed nickname, “Sierra Foxtrot Golf” (Special Female Guest). Although gender plays a role in any ethnographic fieldwork, it weights heavier for a female studying police institutions because of the inherent masculinity of such an environment. My gender not only clearly shaped my role as a researcher but also highlighted how I differed from my informants and how race and gender play a crucial role in this industry. … During my research, I did not encounter a single female armed reaction officer. Managers repeatedly stated that they have a strict policy of not employing women for such positions. … When I asked my informants about female armed reaction officers, they laughed and joked about the prospect of women doing their line of work.
Vanesa Ribas, author of On the Line: Slaughterhouse Lives and the Making of the New South shares stories of Latina migrants escaping sexual exploitation as they simply try to find work.
Some women had wished to continue their education in Honduras, but, unable to afford it, had moved into the labor force. Under other conditions, they might have remained part of Honduras’s white-collar working class. While they were usually able to find work, their pay was meager and some women refused to submit to the sexual exploitation that they said was expected of them. Such was the case for Reina…
” I’m from the coast of Colón, Honduras. I had been studying to be a secretary, and wanted to go to university but didn’t have money to keep studying. I found work but it paid very little. That’s why I had to come here. You can find work there but sometimes only through political connections. And sometimes the politicians offer you a job but they want you to give what you shouldn’t have to in order to get the job [sexual favors]. That’s why sometimes you decide it’s better to come here. There’s a lot of corruption, and they want to take advantage of young people in return for a job, which is why many young people prefer to come here. So I worked briefly, but it didn’t pay well. And they were going to get me a government job, but, like I said, they want you to pay them with something else, to sleep with them. I’m not used to that. I preferred to come here, and not pay them with what they want.”
Caroline E. Schuster, author of Social Collateral: Women and Microfinance in Paraguay’s Smuggling Economy discusses how women’s work is still invisible.
[The] explanation and justification for women’s disadvantaged share of wage labor protections is part of a much bigger story about flexibility and self-employment in management theories and policies drawing on neoclassical microeconomics. This line of analysis is one of the primary justifications for microfinance and its focus on women’s social collateral. Women, Paraguayan labor economists conclude, work predominantly in these low-paying positions in small and microenterprises because of their “flexibility” (flexibilidad), a term they used to gloss both flexible entry and exit from the market and flexible hours. According to this line of reasoning, flexibility allows women to fulfill family obligations as well as work for income but also means that they must settle for jobs with a high degree of precariousness and limited social security and pension access. But the recourse to “flexibility” in labor theories, as feminist economists like Drucilla Barker have pointedly argued, is bundled up with a broader value judgment about women’s work, and its invisibility.