Women's work, men's work: Gender, labor organization, and technology acquisition in a Oaxacan village

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Research undertaken in the Oaxacan (Mexican) indigenous community of Santa Cruz indicates that gender differences in technology acquisition derive in part from locally unique gendered patterns of labor participation. Previous studies have identified constraints on women's adoption of technology which stem from women's relative resource poverty and mode of insertion into the labor process. In the present comparative gender analysis labor-process theory is extended to argue that Santa Cruz men's engagement with communal labor (from which women are spatially and socially excluded) provides men with: (1) gender-specific sociocultural tools transferable to value-added-commodity production, and (2) a social space for discourse on labor-organization technology. Santa Cruz women's (socially constructed) involvement with household production, by contrast, isolates women fragmenting the social space necessary for reworking labor-organization technologies. Women, however contest men's advantages: the social organization of production which excludes women also empowers. Over the eight-year course of a men's cooperative production project, women creatively and successfully utilized their control over key steps in the household labor process to exact concessions collectively from men and to create a separate space for a women's production co-op. Nevertheless women continued to confront workplace-organizational problems as a result of their village-structured experience. Initiatives designed to promote women's technology acquisition must not depend on the assumption of workplace-organizational tools in either men or women, but must identify and address gender disparities in workplace-organizational technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-458
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Women's work, men's work: Gender, labor organization, and technology acquisition in a Oaxacan village'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this