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Flexible Labor and Underinvestment in Women’s Education on the U.S-Mexico BorderO’Leary, Anna Ochoa; Valdez-Gardea, Gloria Ciria; González, Norma; University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center; Colegio de Sonora, Urban and Environmental Studies Program; University of Utah, Department of Education, Culture and Society (University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, 2005)For the past 35 years, borderland industry has opened employment opportunities for women in the community of Nogales, Arizona. However, the expansion of free trade with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has aggravated economic instability by promoting the flexible use of labor, a practice that women have increasingly accommodated. Case studies of women engaged in the retail and maquiladora industries illustrate the interplay between flexible employment, reproduction, and education. These cases suggest that a strong connection between flexible employment and reproduction is sustained by ideologies that see these as mutually complimentary. At the same time, the connections between education and employment and reproduction activities are notably absent or weak. We argue that investing in the education of women, which could lead to more predictable employment, is in this way subverted by regional economic instability. The alienation of education from the other two realms of women’s activities works to the advantage of flexible employment practices and advances the underdevelopment of human capital on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mujeres en el Cruce: Mapping Family Separation/Reunification at a Time of Border (In)SecurityO'Leary, Anna Ochoa; University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center (University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, 2007)In this paper I discuss some of the findings in my study of the encounters between female migrants and immigration enforcement authorities along the U.S.-Mexico border. An objective of the research is to ascertain a more accurate picture of women temporarily suspended in the “intersection” of diametrically opposed processes: immigration enforcement and transnational mobility. Of the many issues that have emerged from this research, family separation is most palpable. This suggests a deeply entrenched relationship between immigration enforcement and the transnationalization of family ties. While this relationship may at first not be obvious, women’s accounts of family separation and family reunification show how, in reconciling these contradictory tendencies, migrant mobility is strengthened, which in turn challenges enforcement measures. In this way, the intersection not only sheds light on how opposing forces (enforcement and mobility) converge but also how each is contingent on the other. This analysis is possible in part through the use of a conceptual intersection of diametrically opposed forces, border enforcement and transnational movement, and thus proves useful in examining the transformative nature of globalized spaces.
Social Exchange Practices among Mexican-Origin Women in Nogales, Arizona: Prospects for Education AcquisitionO'Leary, Anna Ochoa; University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center (University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, 2004)This paper summarizes quantitative and qualitative findings from a 1999 study of Mexican-origin households in Nogales, Arizona. An important finding shows that women’s educational progress is facilitated with social support, and more importantly, that a household’s investment in the education of its members is significantly raised with the increase in the education attainment level of the female head of household. These findings form the premise for arguing that by systematically building on existent cultural frameworks for social support that advance women’s educational progress, the chances for educational attainment for all Mexican-origin persons are improved.