Gender, work and Development

Home/ Gender, work and Development
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA2

Course Coordinator and Team: Sumangala Damodaran, Babu P. Remesh, Deepita Chakravarty

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None



This course explores the field of Gender and Work, relating to sexual division of labour and women’s work in the development process. It looks at work from a gender perspective, particularly with a focus on analytical frameworks and contemporary experiences. The course also focuses on issues relating to definitional categories and measurement of women’s work and offers a survey and critique of the policy framework regarding work and gender. The course examines trends and implications of the globalisation process for gender, particularly in the context of the global production structure, service labour and the experiences of the Structural Adjustment Programmes.

Learning Objectives

The course is intended for students who are interested in understanding and reflecting on the role of large business in social development. Upon completion of this course the students should be in a position to make sense of the trajectory of industry’s response to the moral pressure on profit and also comprehend the development of social entrepreneurship.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit I: Division of labour by gender in the context of social evolution.

a) The impact of transition from peasant to industrial society on sexual division of labour and women’s social status.

b) The impact of economic development on women’s work.

Unit II: Core issues and concepts in women’s work

a) Categories of women’s work: “Productive work”; paid and unpaid work; formal and informal work; visibility & invisibility in work.

b) Gender based discrimination in work: Nature and basis for discrimination in labour markets: Labour force participation rates, gender-based wage differentials and workplace discriminations.

Discrimination within the family and in the sphere of domestic work: Intra-household relations, cooperative conflict and bargaining; Entitlements and women’s work; Property rights, land and discrimination.

Gender and work in a larger discrimination framework (intersectionality - race, class, caste).

c) Gender Stereotypes in work and division of labour: Gendered segregation of professions. Deconstructing gender stereotypes at work; The factory as the male workplace; Masculinity of hard labour; Women as part-timers, Women and ‘nimble fingers’, Women and care work; Perceptions about women’s abilities, skill and efficiency.

d) Work, freedom and empowerment

Unit III: Policy framework for women’s work:

a) Methods of computing women’s work, Classification of women’s work in National Income Accounting systems, Gender issues in Labour Statistics.

b) Gender blindness and gender biases in development policy thinking.

WID,WAD,GAD approaches-Critiques of ‘add and stir’ approach and its policy implications.

Empirical Evidence from India: Women in organised and unorganised sectors, factors affecting women’s participation rates – differences across regions, sectors, rural-urban areas.

Unit IV: Gender and work in the context of Globalisation and Structural Adjustment Programmes

a) Contemporary forms of women’s work under globalisation: Feminisation and its dimensions – informal, flexible, casual and transitory work; Women’s employment and work in the context of global commodity chains; Self employment in the context of micro-credit and home based work; Women as primary breadwinners; Women in Management.

b) Women and Structural Adjustment Programmes: Issues and Analysis.

c) Women, Migration and work. The case of the international Care economy.

Assessment Details with weights: Assessment for this course will consist of two memos (approx 25% weightage each) and a term paper (with 50% weightage).

Reading List:

  • Abel, E.K. and Nelson M.K. (Ed). (1990). Circles of Care: Work and Identity in Women’s Lives. New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Adler, N.J. and Izraeli D.N. (Ed). (1994). Competitive Frontiers: Women managers in a global economy. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
  • Agarwal, B. (1994). A Field of One’s Own: Gender and land Rights in South Asia. Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
  • Anker, R. (1998). Gender and Jobs: Sex segregation of occupations in the world. ILO, Geneva.
  • Banerjee, N. (1999). ‘Analysing Women’s Work under Patriarchy’. In Sangari, K. and Chakravarti, U. (Ed). “From Myths to Markets: Essays on Gender. Delhi: Manohar.
  • Banerjee, N. (2004). “Globalization and women's work”. In Bhattacharya, M (Ed). Globalization: Perspectives in Women's Studies. New Delhi: Tulika Books.
  • Becker, G. (1991). A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Beneria, L. (1995). “Toward a Greater Integration of Gender in Economics”. World Development, Vol.23, No.11, pp.1839-1850.
  • Beneria, L. and Feldman, S. (1992). Unequal Burden: Economic Crises, Persistent Poverty, and Women's Work. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Boserup, E. (1970). Women’s Role in Economic Development. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Buvinic, M. and Gupta, G.R. (1997). ‘Female headed households and female-maintained families: are they worth targeting to reduce poverty in developing countries’. Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 45 No 2.
  • Cagatay, N. (1998). Gender and Poverty, Working Paper Series, Social Development and Poverty Elimination Division, UNDP.
  • Chant, S. (2003). Dangerous Equations? How Female-headed Households Became the Poorest of the Poor: Causes, Consequences and Cautions. Paper prepared for the International Workshop Feminist Fables and Gender Myths: Repositioning Gender in Development Policy and Practice, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, 2-4 July.
  • Damodaran, S. and Menon. K. (2007). “Migrant women and wage employment: exploring issues of work and identity among health care professionals”. NLI research studies series no. 073/2007, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Noida.
  • Desai, N. (2004). Papers of National Seminar on Globalisation and Women’s Work, March 25-26. V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Vol. I.
  • Desai, N. and Krishnaraj, M. (2004). “An Overview of the Status of Women in India”. In Mohanty, M. (Ed). Class, Caste, Gender. New Delhi: Sage.
  • Elson, D. (Ed). (1991). Male Bias in the Development Process. Manchester University Press.
  • Folbre, N. (1995). “Holding Hands at Midnight: The Paradox of Caring Labour”. Feminist Economics, Vol.1 No.1, pp 73-92.
  • Ghosh, J. (1994). “Gender Concerns in Macro-Economic Policy”. Review of Women Studies. Economic and Political Weekly, 30 April.
  • Gothoskar, S. (2000). “Teleworking and Gender: Emerging Issues”. Economic and Political Weekly, 35(26), pp.2293- 2298.
  • Jenson, J., Hagen, E. and Reddy, C. (Eds.). (1988). Feminization of the Labour Force – Paradoxes and Promises. UK: Polity Press.
  • Kabeer, N . (1994). Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought. London: Verso.
  • Kapadia, K. (Ed). (2002). The Violence of Development. Kali for Women.
  • Mitter, S., Fernandez, G. and Varghese, S. (2004). On the Threshold of Informalization: Women Call Centre Workers in India. In Carr, M. (Ed.). Chains of Fortune: Linking Women Producers and Workers with Global Markets. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.
  • Rao, N., Rurup, L., Sudarshan, R. (Ed). (1996). Sites of Change: The Structural Context of Empowering Women in India. Tulika.
  • Towards Equality Report: Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, Government of India, 1974
  • Women Work and Development Series: ILO, Geneva.