Title: Influences of education on gender and status: a study of Sri Lankan export processing zone workers

Authors: Peter Hancock; Geoff Carastathis; Jonathan Georgiou; Hossein Adibi

Addresses: School of Psychology and Social Science, Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia (6027), Australia ' School of Psychology and Social Science, Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia (6027), Australia ' School of Psychology and Social Science, Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia (6027), Australia ' School of Psychology and Social Science, Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia (6027), Australia

Abstract: Sri Lankan women employed by export processing zones (EPZs) represent various educational levels. Using a survey sample of 2,304 randomly selected female EPZ workers, this paper quantitatively compared workers with ordinal-level secondary education - O-levels - and below (n = 1,423) - and those with advanced-level secondary education - A-levels - and above (n = 878). Overall, the 'higher educated' women reported more positive socio-economic outcomes than their 'lower educated' counterparts. Mann-Whitney U tests demonstrated greater earning (saving) capacities among 'higher educated' women; with Pearson's chi-square test of contingencies revealing that this cohort were also more likely to receive promotions than 'lower educated' women. Although reports of abuse (harassment) were generally low among both sub-samples, 'lower educated' female EPZ workers were more likely to experience verbal abuse, sexual harassment and public humiliation. Despite such inter-group polarisation, a near consensus of all participants reported feeling greater empowerment as a result of their time in formal employment.

Keywords: education; formal employment; export processing zones; EPZs; gender; Sri Lanka; women; earning capacity; educational levels; verbal abuse; sexual harassment; public humiliation; female empowerment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJGSDS.2015.074124

International Journal of Gender Studies in Developing Societies, 2015 Vol.1 No.2, pp.157 - 180

Available online: 11 Jan 2016 *

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