University essay from Lunds universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: The thesis aims to explore and understand gender inequality that exists in the global labour market in general and for the Bangladeshi female immigrants in particular. It emphasises feminization of employment in relation to state-market-family relations. The thesis also discusses the ways and to what extent Bangladeshi female immigrant’s roles are sources of entitlement to the provision of UK’s labor market, their status on the labor market, their limits, possibilities and their ability to negotiate changes in these roles in terms of gender relations. The research is qualitative and based on empirical findings from a field study conducted on Bangladeshi immigrant women in London. Findings reveal that the increasing rate of feminization of employment is not coinciding with the elimination of gender disparities to any larger extent. Labor markets continue to be characterized by horizontal and vertical segregation even where there has been a long history of equal opportunity policies. The research finds sufficient evidence to support that the labor market participation and occupational distribution of Bangladeshi women in UK neither resembles that of their male counterparts nor that of the British and other ethnic groups. The study shows that Bangladeshi immigrant women’s transnational settlement has portrayed the coexistence and intersections of multiple gender disparities, within male-dominated power structures. Empirical evidences bear a clear mark of culturally reproduced notions of femininity, masculinity and patriarchy among Bangladeshi communities; although some in the young generation was found in contradictions and negotiations against this stereotyping. It is concluded that beliefs and attitudes about differences between the sexes, grounded in Bengali cultural values contribute to the persistence of sex segregation. Findings further suggest that responsibility for the daily care of family members is one of the major setbacks for Bangladeshi female immigrants, both regarding entry and professional development in UK’s labor market. Moreover, women remain under pressure to maintain the conformity with their own religious, cultural and social values which also affect their underrepresentation on the labor market. Empirical evidence further fails to support the argument of neoliberal economic development, global capitalism and free market economy that women’s occupational outcomes result primarily from free choices that they make in an open market. Rather it suggests that women face discrimination in terms of job segregation by sex, wage disparities, ethnic minority and religious rigidities. The study concludes that Bangladeshi female immigrant’s entry to the UK’ labor market remain at such a low level in terms of occupational diversity, earnings and positions that it does not signal to any major breakthrough in their professional achievement.

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