Gender Differences in an Austrian IT Manufacturing Plant

Gender Differences in an Austrian IT Manufacturing Plant

Christian Korunka (University of Vienna, Austria), Peter Hoonakker (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) and Pascale Carayon (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch081
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Abstract

Despite the gains women have made in the last three decades, a large body of research has recently emerged suggesting that major economic changes occurring on a global scale are having detrimental consequences for women’s labor-market position. At best, these developments are judged to likely limit further progress toward gender equality (Human Resources Development Canada [HRDC], 2002). While in industrialized countries the manufacturing and primary industries have declined, the service sector, where women have traditionally been concentrated, has grown quite substantially. The service sector is highly heterogeneous, encompassing both well-paid professional and technical occupations as well as low-skill, poorly paid occupations. A stratum of highly skilled, high-status workers has emerged, coupled with a large mass of technically semiskilled or unskilled workers who acquire their training on the job or in short courses lasting a few weeks (Standing, 1989). Wage polarization has accompanied the growing demand for highly skilled workers and declining demand for unskilled labor. Increasingly, the workforce is segmented into a primary labor market offering good wages, job security, and opportunities for advancement, and a secondary labor market of low-paid, contingent workers (Economic Council of Canada [ECC], 1991). Women, and especially visible minority women, remain overrepresented in the latter. Much of the literature on gender differences in the IT workforce has focused on the high-end IT jobs. Relatively little is known about low-end IT jobs and the role of gender. The IT industry is mainly a service-oriented industry. However, many of the tools used in these services have to be manufactured by IT manufacturers. In this study, we examine gender differences in the working conditions (job and organizational characteristics, and quality of working life [QWL]) of employees in a chip-manufacturing plant.

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