Puerto Rican Women and Work

Puerto Rican Women and Work: Bridges in Transnational Labor

Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Puerto Rican Women and Work
    Book Description:

    Puerto Rican Women and Work: Bridges in Transnational Laboris the only comprehensive study of the role of Puerto Rican women workers in the evolution of a transnational labor force in the twentieth century.This book examines Puerto Rican women workers, both in Puerto Rico and on the U.S. mainland. It contains a range of information--historical, ethnographic, and statistical. The contributors provide insights into the effects of migration and unionization on women's work, taking into account U.S. colonialism and globalization of capitalism throughout the century as well as the impact of Operation Bootstrap. The essays are arranged in chronological order to reveal the evolutionary nature of women's work and the fluctuations in migration, technology, and the economy. This one-of-a-kind collection will be a valuable resource for those interested in women's studies, ethnic studies, and Puerto Rican and Latino studies, as well as labor studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0143-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-32)

    This collection of essays represents the work of ten contemporary feminist scholars investigating the work experiences of Puerto Rican women (puertornqueñas) between 1920 and 1990. Although our essays emerge from different disciplines and use a variety of methodologies, each sheds light on a unique aspect of the labor history of Puerto Rican women in Puerto Rico or on the mainland United States. Collectively, they render a historical portrait of women who have worked in different time periods, geographic regions, occupations, economies, and labor markets, but whose struggles reveal continuities in a strong work ethic, in home and factory work, in...

  4. ONE Needlewomen under the New Deal in Puerto Rico, 1920–1945
    (pp. 33-54)

    During the month of October 1935 Hijinia Cruz machine-sewed cotton underwear, as she had from the time of her first pregnancy five years earlier. She earned what amounted to fifty cents for thirty hours of work spread over a six-day week, or about one and a half cents an hour. Cruz resided in an extended household—with her twenty-four-year-old unemployed husband, three small children, widowed mother, and divorced brother—in Peñuelas, abarriada(neighborhood) of Ponce, in the southern part of Puerto Rico. She typifies one major group of Puerto Rican needleworkers—mothers of small children—whose homework proved a...

  5. TWO “En la aguja y el pedal eché la hiel”: Puerto Rican Women in the Carment Industry of New York City, 1920–1980
    (pp. 55-81)

    Whenever my mother, Matilde Rodríguez Torres, was asked about her work as a seamstress in the garment factories of Manhattan, she would sigh and say: “¡En la aguja y el pedal, eché la hiel!” Literally this means that over her sewingmachine needle and pedal, she poured her “bile”; but as an idiomatic expression these words also mean that she worked very hard at home and in various workplaces using her needlework skills to help my father support a family of eight children. My earliest memories of this gifted seamstress recall a slim young woman bending over a small manual sewing...

  6. THREE Toward Bilingual Education: Puerto Rican Women Teachers in New York City Schools, 1947–1967
    (pp. 82-104)

    The last thirty years, and particularly the decades of the 1970s and 1980s, have set the stage for a proliferation of scholarly investigations that both extend and challenge the interpretations of the Puerto Rican experience of earlier researchers. More recent studies have begun to focus on the intersections of gender, race, class, and ethnicity. Among them are critical representations of the transformations forged by Puerto Rican women in several arenas, including the pedagogical. Utilizing the methodology of oral history, archival materials, and the testimonials of Puerto Rican women themselves, such studies aim to reconstruct this historical legacy, providing a more...

  7. FOUR The Impact of Job Losses on Puerto Rican Women in the Middle Atlantic Region, 1970–1980
    (pp. 105-138)

    If one group can represent the forces that have been related to the “feminization of poverty” in the United States, it is Puerto Rican women living in the Middle Atlantic region.¹ As capital has displaced workers and employed new groups that permitted greater accumulation, few groups have suffered as intensely the effects of the ongoing economic crisis that has placed women and men of different skill levels and national origins in unequal positions in the labor market. In this process, Puerto Rican families have become stratified with an increased proportion of women in these families living in poverty and economic...

  8. FIVE Our Two Full-Time Jobs: Women Garment Workers Balance Factory and Domestic Demands in Puerto Rico
    (pp. 139-160)

    Tarly feminist theorists, especially Marxist theorists, argued that women’s emancipation would follow their incorporation into the paid labor force. However, recent studies carried out in developing societies indicate that women have been incorporated into the labor force on the basis ofgender and that society’s gender hierarchy has thus been maintained and reproduced. Moreover, contemporary working women must now contend with two types ofwork: salaried and nonsalaried labor. This chapter evaluates the impact of these processes on Puerto Rican women by examining the lives of a group of women working in the garment industry in western Puerto Rico during what many...

  9. SIX Gender and Politics: Grassroots Leadership among Puerto Rican Women in a Health Struggle
    (pp. 161-183)

    This chapter explores the ways in which a group of women workers organized and struggled to confront harmful incidents of gas emissions in their workplace in Puerto Rico in the 1980s. By incorporating the category of gender into its analysis, this study not only illuminates Puerto Rican working-class women’s perspectives on politics and leadership but also challenges traditional academic thought on political action, which until recently has ignored women’s political behavior and visions of politics.¹ Feminist critics have argued that the premise for this exclusion rests on the idea that political action is congruent with the “male” and not with...

  10. SEVEN Negotiating Gender, Work, and Welfare: Familia as Productive Labor among Puerto Rican Women in New York City
    (pp. 184-208)

    This chapter concerns a group of Puerto Rican migrant women who have been absent from the formal labor market for more than a decade. For a variety of reasons they have not been part of the labor force during this time and hence are not even counted in the unemployment rolls. Although the principal means of support for almost all of them is Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), all of these women feel deeply connected to work. Not only do they have extensive employment histories, they also espouse a strong work ethnic and, as homemakers, view themselves as...

  11. EIGHT New Tappings on the Keys: Changes in Work and Gender Roles for Women Clerical Workers in Puerto Rico
    (pp. 209-234)

    This chapter explores the changing gender and class relations among contemporary women clerical workers in Puerto Rico.¹ More than 30 percent of all employed women were clerical workers in 1990, exceeding their rate of participation in any other single occupation.² Women were previously concentrated in the manufacturing sector as machine operators in the textile, food processing, garment, and electronics industries—a legacy from the late 1940s and 1950s campaign for rapid industrialization known as “Operation Bootstrap.”³ Today, clerical work outstrips women's participation in other sectors of the service economy, and it is often accompanied by high levels of gender stratification,...

    (pp. 235-236)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 237-249)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 250-250)