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Women call centre workers in India satisfied

December 15, 2005

Despite all the talk about exploitation of call centre workers in India, a new book says women workers here seem relatively satisfied and enjoy their work, which has given them more freedom and autonomy.

Yes, there is physical stress, the mundane nature of the job and low status of call centre work, but women, who constitute up to 70 per cent of the workforce in some BPOs, seem to enjoy their work, according to Gender and the Digital Economy: Perspectives from the Developing World.

Especially in India, women have found that the wages they earn enable them to experience a new found freedom, say editors Cecila Ng, visiting Associate Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok and Swasti Mitter, international consultant on Information and Communication Technologies.

In India, women's mobility and spending power have traditionally been controlled by men, even in the case of highly educated working women. In a study of call centre workers in Malaysia and India though, Ng and Mitter say women point out that they have learnt new skills and some have even become more assertive as individuals. The acquired skills -- ranging from communication, listening and interpersonal skills to product knowledge and technical competency -- have given them a sense of confidence in dealing both with customers and society at large. And while some women are in it for a short period, others plan to pursue careers in the call centre industry.

According to the book, women's interpersonal skills are now being recognized and valued economically. In call centres, a premium is attached to women's voices and their interpersonal skills, as these are closely connected to the quality of customer care and will ultimately ensure the profitability of the company.

While the exact number of women at various levels in the Indian IT industry is not available due to lack of gender disaggregated data, it is estimated that they constitute 21 per cent of the total IT workforce -- which is higher than their participation in the national economy as a whole at 13 per cent. The authors, however, note that despite all this progress, the gender-based division of labour at home has been maintained and, in some cases, even magnified despite women's involvement in paid work in the IT industry. With the introduction of new information and communication technologies, most women's daily workload has only multiplied, as they have to do regular unpaid housework in addition to paid work.

Despite all this, says the book, the important issue at this hour is restoring and carrying forward a creative and empowered participation of women in technology development.

Gender and Digital Economy: Perspectives from the Developing World. Edited by Cecila Ng and Swasti Mitter. Published by Sage. Price: Rs 540.


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    Sub: Woman employee of BPO killed by call centre car driver

    FOr those of you , who have not heard about this sad incident in Bangalore, please look up todays papers. A woman employee was picked ...

    Posted by Shivaram


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