Seminar: "Tech Work and The Making of The Extreme Ideal Workers – Citizens and Immigrant Workers in the U.S Tech Industry" by Dr Pallavi Banerjee
US tech companies are among the U.S. firms offering generous family leave, flexible scheduling, and remote work opportunities, at least partly as a way to demonstrate their commitment to recruiting and retaining women. This paper examines how tech workers negotiate family friendly policies offered by tech companies. In particular, we compare the experiences of U.S. citizens who are tech workers, both men and women with those of the largest group of migrant tech professionals, Indian men. The study is based on two-years of qualitative data collection that included in-depth life course interviews with 115 high-tech workers, ethnographic observation in communities of migrant Indian tech-workers, tech-industry conferences, and workplaces, and interviews with immigration experts like lawyers, legislators and activists. Our findings suggest that the U.S. born women tech-workers were the only group in the tech-industry accessing and using the family-friendly policies. The U.S born male tech-workers did not use these policies citing that the structure of tech work does not permit family leaves without career compromises. The Indian tech workers though expressing desires to spend more time with their families did not have the option of taking family leaves due to their visa statuses and work contracts. Our research, then, indicates that the way family leave policies operate in gendered and a racialized work and immigration regime creating insidious inequalities in the tech industry that are often not readily visible.
Dr. Pallavi Banerjee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Illinois, Chicago in 2012 and then held a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University in the U.S. Her research interests are situated at the intersection of sociology of immigration, gender and feminist theory, racialization, transnational labor and minority families. Prof. Banerjee’s research on the H-4 visa played a critical role in the Obama Administration’s reformulation of those rules. She is currently finishing her book manuscript tentatively entitled: Dismantling Dependence: Gendered Migrations and Intersectional Visa Regimes(contracted with New York University Press) that explores how immigration policies and visa regimes of United States affect male-led and female led immigrant families of Indian professional workers in the U.S. This research won several awards in its early stages. Prof. Banerjee has also published in journals like the American Behavioral Scientist, Sociological Forum, and Contexts among others.