Gender, digital technology, and the future of work in India
- Start date: 1 March 2021
- End date: 31 October 2023
- Principal investigator: Dr Asiya Islam
This project seeks to explore various facets of work transformations and young women’s engagement with technology in India through an innovative combination of surveys, digital diaries, and ethnographic research.
India has a low female labour force participation rate as well as a significant gender digital gap, raising concerns about women’s inclusion in technological futures of work. The project will explore the ways in which increased work dependency on technology, triggered by the pandemic, may present new opportunities as well as new hurdles to women’s participation in work.
The limited research we have on this topic makes reference either to working class women who have traditionally been doing home-based work, such as piece wage workers, or middle class women who are employed in multinational corporations. The workers who fall somewhere ‘in-between’ are missing from this picture. This project will intervene by focusing on young, lower middle class women who are seeking opportunities in emerging services and by exploring their adaptability to the digital.
This is a multi-stage project using the following methods:
1) A survey (n=735) has been conducted with young people (18-25 years) in Delhi (urban), Uttar Pradesh (rural), and Bihar (rural) assessing gender differences in digital literacy, access, and use (funded by the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre);
2) Digital diaries with 15 young women in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar to gain in-depth understanding of how they use smartphones and the internet, and any barriers that they face in doing so (funded by the Cambridge Humanities Research Grant);
3) Ethnographic interviews with women working in the emerging e-commerce sector in urban India (funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant).
Part of the project is done in partnership with the Delhi-based organisation Nirantar.
Publications and outputs
‘Gender inequalities in digital India’ – Research and Innovation Podcast, March 2023
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Islam, A. (2023) ‘Gender Inequalities in Digital India: A survey on digital literacy, access, and use’ Digit working paper
Islam, A. (2022) Work-from/at/for-home: Covid19 and the future of work - a critical review. Geoforum 128, pp.33-36. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.11.018
Islam, A. (2021). “Two hours extra for working from home”: Reporting on gender, space, and time from the Covid‐field of Delhi, India. Gender, Work & Organization. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12617