Working the Night Shift: Gender and the Global Economy

  • Reena Patel Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin
Keywords: IT sector, transnational call centers, social change, women mobility, urban nightscape, public sphere, global economy, gender


The global mainstream media characterizes the IT sector, and transnational call centers in particular, as catalysts for social change in India. Yet, the emergence of this industry is not shifting patriarchal relations of power in a significant way due to social and spatial constraints on women’s mobility in the urban nightscape. Specific to call center employment, mobility is important because it requires night shift workers. For a woman in India to be out at this hour is generally considered improper and unsafe. However, women are participating in this industry and corporate strategies, such as the use of private shuttle vans to transport women to and from work in the middle of the night, reflect the ways in which both the industry and its female employees negotiate a presence in the public sphere. Based on exploratory research conducted in Mumbai, India in January, 2005, I argue that the insertion of women into the urban nightscape, via the night shift requirements of the global economy, is met with covert resistance. Although there are no visible barriers such as “men only” signs written into public space, women’s bodies continue to be marked as a site of transgression.
How to Cite
Patel, R. (1). Working the Night Shift: Gender and the Global Economy. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 5(1), 9-27. Retrieved from
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