Title: Gender and the jute industry: the Calcutta chapter, 1890-1990

Authors: Samita Sen

Addresses: Diamond Harbour Women's University, c/o Fakir Chand College, Diamond Harbour, 24 Parganas, West Bengal 743331, India

Abstract: One major contrast between the jute workforce in Calcutta and Dundee is in their gender composition. Calcutta had a small and declining proportion of women; women predominated in tasks like weaving in Dundee. Calcutta and its industrial environments were considered male, while Dundee was known as a 'women's town'. In both industries, the proportion of women declined over time. In Calcutta, it began in the 1930s to be reinforced by formalisation in the 1950s and 1960s. In Dundee, these changes came later due to mechanisation. In the late 1990s, the crisis in Calcutta's jute industry led to a loss of male income and status, and a focus on women as earners. In both industries, women had an ambiguous relationship with trade unionism. They acquired a reputation for militancy, unacceptable to middle-class union leaders, who continued to emphasise domesticity and motherhood. In Dundee the leaders were middle class women; while in Calcutta, male leadership and memberships predominated.

Keywords: India; Scotland; Calcutta; Dundee; jute industry; gender; labour; class; militancy; women workers; female participation; trade unionism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2014.063849

International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2014 Vol.8 No.2/3, pp.126 - 140

Published online: 23 Jul 2014 *

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