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Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  939 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
In a remarkable pairing, two renowned social critics offer a groundbreaking anthology that examines the unexplored consequences of globalization on the lives of women worldwide.

Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave

Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Holt Paperbacks (first published January 6th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 06, 2009 Nicola rated it liked it
This is a terribly depressing read, simply because it's a terribly depressing subject: white, Western women are able to enjoy their postfeminist equality, but only by (under)paying non-white migrant workers to clean their homes and look after their children. It's a damning, seemingly-unsolvable problem and one that I wanted to know more about. But I really had to force myself to keep reading, because it's a topic that contains such upsetting truths.

There are some great articles in the book, but
Mar 19, 2014 Liz rated it it was ok
This is a collection of essays, which generally means you're getting a mixed bag. I didn't go in expecting the most super radical thing ever but I was hoping for a bit more.

I guess what I found most disappointing was the focus on white, Western, professional-class women's perspectives — in particular, how they can be nice employers of Third World women. Who gives a shit? Arlie Russell Hochschild's "Love and Gold" begins as an incisive analysis of how caring labour, like natural resources, is ex
Aug 28, 2008 Emily rated it liked it
I picked this book to read because I thought it was by Barbara Erenreich. Instead it is a collection of essays that is edited by her. (She did actually write ONE of the essays.) I also didn't realize it was just essays, not a contiguous study of women in the global economy. That was a little dissapointing. Just as an essay got interesting, it was over and the next one was boring.

But I would like to speak about the second to last essay. It was about Vietnamese (or Korean...I already forgot!) wome
A terribly depressing read made even more depressing by the fact that these are the experiences of women all over the world. These are their lives and they don't have the luxury of putting the book down.

Despite that this book is an enlightening read that makes you aware of your own position in the world. It merely scratches the surface of the injustices women experience in their lives all around the world.

One of the strengths of the book is the way in which the material is presented. It avoids
Mar 26, 2007 pinkgal rated it really liked it
Shelves: no_fiction_here
Not quite as personal as Nickel and Dimed, this is definitely for the readers who prefer a bit more academia in their reading. Nevertheless, it's filled with interesting stories about the women behind the faces we see on the news and beyond. One thing I really like about Ehrenreich is her ability to tackle the subjects that others hate to notice. Or rather, would like to NOT notice. Poverty? Please, of course people can live off minimum wage! If they can't, they're just lazy or spendthrifts. Wom ...more
Sarah Shourd
May 16, 2008 Sarah Shourd rated it really liked it
Incredible much-needed look at women, labor and migration in the global economy. Too many 3rd world women are globe-trotting to fill the "care sector" as nannies, housekeepers and prostitutes only to leave a "care void" behind due to strict traditional gender roles that say a woman can't be the provider and a man is not supposed to be the family's source of love and support. This book opened my eyes to some very important work that needs to be done to reconcile the relationship between women in ...more
Jul 20, 2011 Chinook rated it really liked it
I read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide a couple of months ago, and now that I've read this book, I feel incredibly well informed. The last essay I found a bit boring, but the others were all interesting, if occasionally a bit repetitive.
Jun 03, 2015 Rell rated it really liked it
I read this book for a class that I was taking. It was such an interesting read that I decided to keep the book. Depressing that women all over the globe are being suppressed in one form or another but nonetheless its informative and a good read. Thought provoking.
Simon Wood
Sep 27, 2013 Simon Wood rated it really liked it

I've always got time for the journalist Barbara Ehrenreich's robust writing since I was lent "Nickel and Dimed: Undercover in Low-wage America" a few years back. In this book, published in 2002, Ehrenreich along with Arlie R Hochschild have collected a variety of essays that look at how the situation of woman has changed in the last couple of decades as the world economy has become increasingly globalised.

The contributions, as to be expected in collections such as this, vary i
Sep 30, 2016 Killaine rated it really liked it
Excellent review of foreign domestic workers in developed countries, and the ripple impact on their families and communities. I think any choice to hire a foreign domestic worker should be made with the sort of knowledge this book provides and the opportunities it offers to do it better.
Dec 17, 2014 Jade rated it liked it
From my perspective, the purpose of a collection of essays on any subect is that each essay enlightens a particular side of an issue, until when you're done reading the book you get a global picture. Not so here. There is a lot in this book about wealthy white American women on the one hand, and about struggling South East Asian women on the other, but almost nothing about African, European and Latin American women of all races and classes. There is a lot about domestic workers but little about ...more
Nov 18, 2010 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
This is basically a collection of essays in the supplementary roles woman play which allow the great game of globalization to expand.

It starts with the stories of Phillipino women (and it should be noticed that the majority of cases in the book involve exploitation of South East Asians) who are hired by wealthy American working couples to perform the traditional female roles of childrearing, cleaning & cooking (keeping house basically).

With the Western woman now fully engaged in the workpla
Aug 02, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
This book discusses how the "Western" woman is helping to oppress woman from third world nations by passing on the domestic work in their homes to those maids and nannies while they "liberate" themselves and go to work everyday. It's an interesting perspective but of course it does not apply to a majority of "Western/American" women. Not all families can afford to have domestic help. Yet, to hear the stories of the women who are being "imported" to support women who seek those careers that make ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Steven rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teachers,activists
Recommended to Steven by: professor
This book could be an attempt to expand Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickled and Dimed with a feminist angle. Instead, it is a collection of vaguely redundant essays that collectively numb the reader rather than stir them to action.

The essays - each by a different author, mind you - cover - as the title implies - women in the global economy. Specifically, women who have become migrant nannies, maids, and sex workers. There is a lot of moving, powerful, and astounding information in this book - human rig
Jan 27, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-studies
It's very good. Fifteen writers contribute articles on the migration of third world women to work as first world maids, nannies, and prostitutes-- really interesting stuff. While the topic range is pretty broad, I was very slightly disappointed with the range of voices. After all, what's a feminist compilation without at least one radical, preferably revolting against patriarchal language? I kid, but I have come to appreciate the variety one usually gets from feminist compilations, and I ...more
Aug 13, 2013 Amélie rated it liked it
Recueil d'essais semi-éparpillés qui souffre un peu de son format, mais surtout d'un travail d'édition sévèrement botché. J'ai parfois (souvent) eu l'impression que Ehrenreich & Hochschild ont tapé "femmes+mondialisation+travail+migration" dans un moteur de recherche, ont sélectionné les articles scientifiques qu'elles préféraient & en ont fait un livre. Ceci dit! Malgré le manque de cohérence & de cohésion de l'ouvrage (& les quelques articles qui reprenaient essentiellement les ...more
Dec 21, 2007 Tracey rated it liked it
Global Woman is a collection of essays on the causes & effects of the migration of women from less developed countries to more developed countries - focusing on the care industry. The authors of the essays interviewed both the women providing the care, as well as the employers (usually women); comparing and contrasting the stories they told.

Also included are histories of those left behind; the children and husbands of the migrant women, who sometimes do not return for years. The implication
Dec 31, 2008 Agnes rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Brynn, Spencer, Liz L., Claire R.
Recommended to Agnes by: Liz L., Eszter
After unsuccessfully starting two novels, I realized that I was in the mood for non-fiction. This is a great collection of essays about women who migrate (voluntarily or involuntarily through sexual slavery) due to modern economic pressures and various other causes linked to globalization. Ehrenreich's essay is a standout, while the loser (not surprisingly for me, since I couldn't stand her when I had her for a class at U of C) is Sassen's closing essay on global cities/migration. A couple of ...more
Aug 15, 2008 ExistenGuy rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has the subtitle: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the new economy and should give the reader a clear picture of the content - a collection of articles/essays mostly written by women on female migrant workers in the era of globalization. Most of them tell stories of women (mainly Hispanic and Filipina) who have left their homes to work in distant countries, severing ties with their children and husbands left behind in their native land. The essays detail their survival in a world of ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Judith rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild comprises 15 essays on migrant women workers (four previously published and eleven new ones). Most cases are of migrant women employed by rich white women to ease the "care deficit" in Western nations. Insufficient “men’s work” everywhere, and plenty of “women’s work” to be done in the local, even intimate, settings of wealthy nations, has priced care work out of the reach ...more
Apr 20, 2007 Lubna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, especially those interested in feminism & women's rights
This is a series of essays from various thinkers & writers about different issues affecting women around the world. One of the main premises of the book is that the gains of women in the Western world has been made on the backs of the poor, women of color of the Global South. For example (and relevant to myself), women can become high powered attorneys because they can hire nannies (often from Latin America, etc) to take care of their children - wrenching these women from their own children ...more
Mar 11, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: globalization junkies, feminists, beginners in internationalism
Shelves: read-in-2009
A fair intro into the various female migration patterns occuring today- though by no means a serious/indepth sociological analysis. I do see the importance in including the various forms migration takes (childcare, trafficking, service) under the auspices of discussing the 'Global Woman'- but I think the unfocused nature of the book detracted from my appreciation of it.

Saskia Sassens's final essay Global Cities and Survival Circuits was a highlight of the book's overarching themes and could hav
Jan 14, 2016 Rachel rated it it was ok
This was not just a sit down and read through book for me. The subject matter is pretty specific which made it more interesting to read an essay here and an essay there rather than sit for several hours reading essays on very similar topics. While the ideas behind the book were well articulated, aside from the final essay, I felt like they were not new concepts for me. The final essay,which talked about how international debt and aid pressure developing countries to push women abroad, was the ...more
Feb 26, 2007 Jen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A more informational, research-based version of Nickeled and Dimed (the editor's more popular book), with essays by various researchers. Like many similar books, you are left with a bit of a "you can't win" taste - is it better to hire someone in a means that could be exploitative, or to not hire them? Are people taken advantage of more if hired through agencies or individually? Etc. The biggest thing I remember about the book was the irony of economic systems that make it necessary for women to ...more
Feb 08, 2010 Libby rated it liked it
Shelves: global-values, gender
Well put-together, a series of essays by a variety of authors. I was grateful there were more voices than Ms.Ehrenreich's represented - she didn't bring much new to the table after her Nickel and Dimed reporting. At it's best this book takes underdocumented populations - often SE Asian women working in private homes across the sea from relatives, and looks at a variety of labor practices, living standards and personal connection to employer. There are more than a few real hard luck cases, and ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Ashleigh rated it really liked it
A good book, full of short, investigative essays on everything from international nannies and their various family dynamics, various parts of the sex industry, maid services, and other professions that are stereotypically and traditionally taken on by women either by force or choice. It's now slightly outdated, which is actually encouraging, as some conditions for women forced into servitude have, in some ways, improved.
The book also talks about relationships with western women, and the various
Mar 03, 2010 Lindsey rated it really liked it
I read parts of this book for class, but it was so interesting that I found myself reading the whole thing in my spare time. I'm not as up to date as I would like to be about global feminist issues and this book really opened my eyes on a lot of things. If you're not interested in global feminism, this is probably not the book for you, though, because it's relatively academic and some of the essays (especially the last one) are REALLY heavy-handed when it comes to Academic Speak, which I ...more
Kent Winward
Oct 18, 2012 Kent Winward rated it liked it
Much of the writing in this book is "academic" meaning dry and inaccessible. How that furthers the cause of women, I'm not sure, but jargon does have its place I suppose. I have enjoyed Ehrenreich's other writings and this book she edited was instructive and even quite good at times, although it felt more like a college text.

The main take away for me was the problems of the economy/immigration/maintaining human dignity are enormous and our self-centric views make resolution very difficult.
Galen Johnson
Jun 19, 2013 Galen Johnson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This collection of essays was quite informative on often hidden or avoided topics, the role of migrant women in the global economy working as household help and as prostitutes-- in essence, taking over the domestic roles that women become too busy, too powerful, or just too disinterested and rich to play in their own household. The essays are mostly academic in tone, but accessible to the lay-reader (except maybe the final one) and tell a compelling story about both globalization and how far we ...more
Lindsay Padgett
Mar 17, 2014 Lindsay Padgett rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book was very interesting and eye opening. It opened the domestic doors sort of speak. However, given it's subject this collection of essays lacked emotion and a sense of personalization. While it told the stories of many individuals, the invisibility was still there, as the telling of their experiences felt lumped together. I felt at times I was reading a textbook. None the less, it was a revelation of a read.
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Barbara Ehrenreich is an American journalist and the bestselling author of sixteen previous books, including the bestsellers Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. A frequent contributor to Harpers and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time Magazine.
More about Barbara Ehrenreich...

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“However we resolve the issue in our individual homes, the moral challenge is, put simply, to make work visible again: not only the scrubbing and vacuuming, but all the hoeing, stacking, hammering, drilling, bending, and lifting that goes into creating and maintaining a livable habitat. In an ever more economically unequal world, where so many of the affluent devote their lives to ghostly pursuits like stock trading, image making, and opinion polling, real work, in the old-fashioned sense of labor that engages hand as well as eye, that tires the body and directly alters the physical world tends to vanish from sight. The feminists of my generation tried to bring some of it into the light of day, but, like busy professional women fleeing the house in the morning, they left the project unfinished, the debate broken off in mid-sentence, the noble intentions unfulfilled. Sooner or later, someone else will have to finish the job.” 6 likes
“If we want developed societies with women doctors, political leaders, teachers, bus drivers, and computer programmers, we will need qualified people to give loving care to their children. And there is no reason why every society should not enjoy such loving paid child care.” 0 likes
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