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Half the sky? How social norms and gender discrimination shape women's work

When: Tuesday, 29 October 2019 - Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Where: Parktown Management Campus
Donald Gordon Auditorium, Wits School of Governance
Start time:17:30

The Southern Centre for Inequality Studies will host its inaugural Inequality Lecture to be presented by Professor Ashwini Deshpande from Ashoka University.

Her Ph.D. and early publications have been about international debt crisis of the 1980s. She has been working on the economics of discrimination and affirmative action, with a focus on caste and gender in India. She has published extensively in leading scholarly journals. Women's participation in labour markets and their work conditions have some common features globally, regardless of level of development or the institutional/cultural context. For instance, everywhere women earn less than men. However, there are also important regional variations, and  analysis of the multiple ways in which gender dynamics play out in the context of work leads to interesting typologies. The bulk of academic analysis makes a neat binary between developing and developed countries. For developing countries, cultural factors or (conservative) social norms, including the stigma attached to women's work, are seen as primarily responsible for women's low labour force participation, or for occupational segregation. For developed countries, the discussion is almost never in terms of social norms; gender gaps are explained in terms of economic discrimination. 

This talk takes stock of the evolution of women's work participation, gender wage gaps, occupational division over the last two decades globally. It highlights key regional differences in these indicators, and argues that it is important to break this analytical binary. While the specific details vary, "cultural" factors matter everywhere.  Similarly, gender discrimination is also ubiquitous, regardless of the level of economic development of the country. 

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