New Gendered Practices in Auxiliary Services in India's High Tech Firms

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Kiran MIRCHANDANI , Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Sanjukta MUKHERJEE , DePaul University
Shruti TAMBE , University of Pune, India
Transnational corporations have radically altered the urban land?scape of many cities in India. They are housed in gleaming, well-maintained buildings with round the clock security. Within these workplaces, primarily middle class virtually mobile workers interact with clients and customers from North America, Europe and Australia.

This paper focuses on the workers who “service” India’s high-tech workplaces. Based on interviews with workers who provide security and housekeeping services we trace newly emerging patterns of gendered work. Traditionally female-dominated sectors, such as cleaning, have experienced a large influx of men as a result of the rhetoric of professionalism which is used to promote this work within foreign corporations. Men and women in cleaning make sense of the stigma associated with their jobs (in the context of both gender and caste expectations) while simultaneously stressing the technology-based, standards driven nature of their jobs. Similarly, men and women in security jobs highlight the militaristic precision demanded for their jobs while recognizing the low waged, unstable nature of their work in the context of subcontracting. In making these normative claims, workers define and inscribe new gendered rhetorics of masculinization and feminization. We argue that these rhetorics support the gendered segregations of these occupations, which are poorly paid precarious jobs for primarily male workers.