Working conditions and gender dynamics in the global garment industry: A comparative study of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Lesotho and Vietnam

Supervisor's Name Kelly Pike
Supervisor Email Address*
Supervisor's Department Human Resources & Management
Project Title Working conditions and gender dynamics in the global garment industry: A comparative study of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Lesotho and Vietnam
Description of Research Project
There is currently a massive decent work gap in the global garment industry. Women experience poor health and safety conditions, violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, and they struggle to balance work and family responsibilities. This raises a question about whether women’s employment in the garment industry indeed represents a quality work opportunity, and furthermore whether it is improving or weakening their homes lives. The questions explored in this research project include “how can a quality job in the garment industry translate into changes at the household and community level? How can women’s full participation in the workforce be enabled?” Specifically, it looks at the impact of the ILO’s Better Work on labour standards, gender and household dynamics in four of its participating countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lesotho, Vietnam – as well as outcomes in one non-Better Work country, Kenya. The ultimate goal is to develop policy recommendations for closing critical gender and decent work gaps.
Undergraduate Student Responsibilities
A first round of primary data collection for this project was completed in 2013-2015, through focus group discussions with workers in the garment industries in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Lesotho and Vietnam. The data has a number of holes in it, and needs to be strengthened with more in-depth literature review and another round of data collection in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The student will be engaged in a combination of desk-based research, literature review, and also potentially some primary data collection. As his/her supervisor, I would provide training in conducting literature reviews, collecting data from secondary sources, coding and analyzing data (e.g. content analysis of documents; using qualitative software), and potentially also preparing for/conducting primary data collection. To this end, it would be particularly interesting/useful to work a student who is either from Bangladesh, Cambodia, or Vietnam (and/or can speak one of the local languages).
Qualifications Required
The student should have basic computer/software proficiency (e.g. word, excel, working with PDFs), and be familiar with conducting searches for academic journal articles (e.g. through the York library database). Ability to read articles and summarize main arguments, engage in critical analysis, is a key asset. It would be ideal if the student were familiar with bibliographical/reference programs (e.g. refworks, endnote). Ideally the student is interested in global labour issues, workers rights, advocacy, and activism. It is not expected but will be additionally helpful if the student has had some exposure to qualitative software. Bonus if the student can speak one of the local languages of Bangladesh, Cambodia or Vietnam.