Flexible Labor and Underinvestment in Women’s Education on the U.S-Mexico Border
AffiliationUniversity 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
KeywordsHispanic American women -- Education -- Mexican-American Border Region
Hispanic American women -- Employment -- Mexican-American Border Region
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RightsThe MASRC Working Paper Series © The Arizona Board of Regents
Collection InformationThe goal of the Mexican American Studies & Research Center's Working Paper Series is to disseminate recent research on the Mexican American experience. The Center welcomes papers from the social sciences, public policy fields, and the humanities. Areas of particular interest include economic and political participation of Mexican Americans, health, immigration, and education. The Mexican American Studies & Research Center assumes no responsibility for statements or opinions of contributors to its Working Paper Series.
AbstractFor 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.