Project Director: Jo H. Kim, Ph.D.
This project examined the gendered nature of Korean transnational corporations, highlighting the ways in which features of the workplace shape individual and communal identity.
While feminist scholars have emphasized the significant relationship between gender and the global economy and the complexities of gender in experiencing globalization, in their analyses, they generally view gender as a category and, thus, constructed a priori the workplace. As a result, they fail to consider the workplace and its particular features as a powerful agent to constructing ideologies, practices, and identity around gender. Furthermore, their analyses tend to be mostly based on work settings such as global factories, overlooking other transnational workplaces that are more mainstream, such as the white-collar or pink-collar sectors.
This project focused on Korean immigrant women workers' experiences of globalization in the workplace. By examining the gendered work practices in Korean transnational corporations (TNCs) in the United States and the women's responses to them, the project highlighted the specific features of the workplace that form practice and identity in particular ways. Because the globalizing workplace includes a division of labor that is defined by ethnicity and gender, the women workers in Korean TNCs cognitively construct gendered practices through ethnicity. Moreover, they use their own ethnicity to explain their responses to the gendered practices.
This ethnic construction has a strong implication for understanding inequality in the workplace because it reinforces and reproduces work practices and work structure. While scholars have identified ethnicity as a cleavage between workers, they have not conceptualized it as a rationalization for acts of worker resistance and accommodation. It is significant because it not only reveals the ways in which gender and ethnicity are co-constituted in the context of the TNC workplace, but also highlights the complex ways in which people make sense of their experiences of inequalities through their own structural positions both in the context of the workplace and the labor market. Because work and identity are central features of modern life, this study enhances our understanding of the globalization process and how it intersects with the specific features of the workplace to configure many dimensions of identity.
The WCW Publication Office now offers a report on this project, "The Construction of Gender and Ethnicity in the Globalizing Workplace."
Gender and Transnational Corporations provides more information on this research.