Analysing the Construction of Gendered Work: A Case of Hotels, Resorts and Casinos in the Kathmandu Valley
The paper attempts to analyse how gendered work gets constructed in the hotels, resorts and casinos drawing on a feminist research conducted in six establishments – two samples from each category of five star hotels, deluxe resorts and casinos. The research uses mixed methods of 21 questionnaires, 65 semi-structured interviews of male and female workers, managers, male family members and policy experts and observations made at some at the sample establishments.
The study uses the concept of occupational segregation to unpack the gender division of labour by analysing vertical and horizontal segregation and shows how gendering occurs at the structural level of the establishments. The paper argues that gendered work is constructed by three distinct but related dimensions, namely: a) the gender division of labour; b) the gendered ideologies of managers and workers; and c) the gendering of skills provided through training.
The research finds that there is a ‘gendering’ of organisational or establishment structures (hierarchies and jobs), the ideologies of managers and workers, the skills provided in training and the performance of certain aspects of interactive service work. Another dimension concerns the gendered ideologies held by managers and workers, which further legitimise and/or contest the gender division of labour. These gendered ideologies are underpinned by essentialist views that attach attributes of masculinity and femininity to certain jobs which are considered as ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ domains as if they are ‘hermitically sealed’ which leads to workers ‘doing gender’ at work. In addition, a few women who challenged such gendered ideologies could perhaps be seen as ‘undoing gender’ as they work in non-traditional jobs. They faced male resistance and had to prove that they could do the same work as men, and consciously challenged the notion that women are not fit to work in certain departments.
A third dimension relates the way gendered work is constructed, concerns the training provided to workers by the establishments. Workers are trained with various skills that are not mutually exclusive and there is a gendering of skills. Managers’ accounts indicate the emphasis on training workers in order to meet the customers’ expectations of ‘quality service’ as well as maintaining the ‘standardised service’ of the establishments. This means there is a gendering of skills as men and women workers acquire different sets of skills which also depends on where they work within and across the different establishments; this can be understood as workers doing gender at work.
Thus, the research finds that the nature of gendered work varies depending on the type of sector/industry in which work is performed. It shows that the country context is important; the workforce in hotel and casino sector in Nepal is not feminised overall but certain occupations within it are becoming feminised. This is different to the findings of the studies conducted in the Western contexts.