The Sticky Assumptions of Gender and Work
This chapter explores the role of institutional novelty in moderating the experience of gender. It shows how the emergence of the Indian elite law firm has been uniquely shaped by the newness of the work and the organizational structure — as well as a new, neoliberal workforce not found in other professional firms of similar status. As new firms doing new work, these elite law firms are indeed advantaged by being able to escape strong preconceived notions of work and identity. In addition, the newness of the law schools that socialize these firms' workers contribute to the firms' multi-layered advantage, an advantage not enjoyed by other firms that are similarly structured by globalization but that draw their workforce from more long-established educational institutions. Ultimately, the chapter demonstrates how globalization and class come together to renegotiate traditional assumptions of gender and the framework of an ideal worker. It argues that the gender outcomes in these firms result not from a movement for gender equality, but instead from the emergence of the Indian law firm as a new site of high-prestige global labor.
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