Book talk to discuss Indian immigrant women in the workplace Nov. 16

WWU Professor of Political Science Bidisha Biswas and Stockton University Economics Professor Ramya Vijaya will discuss their new book, “Immigrant Women and Work: The American Experience,” at a book talk from 3-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Canada House.

Biswas and Vijaya’s book focuses on the stories of Indian immigrant women’s professional experiences in the American workplace and addresses questions about race, gender, class and migration. Their goal was to create an accessible and educational story that gave a voice to women with their own narratives intertwined, Biswas said. The sphere of Indian women in the workplace has not been extensively studied.

“There are a lot of perceptions about Indian women,” Biswas said, recalling her surprise when she came to the U.S. on a student visa pre-9/11 and people though she must be a doctor. “Indian women come from a uniquely privileged place, are perceived as very wealthy and there is a disjunct between how people in the United States view Indian women and what they actually do.”

For two years, Biswas and Vijaya worked to explore what it means to be an Indian woman working in the U.S. They interviewed 25 women who immigrated to the U.S. from India, focusing their professional and work lives, but not disregarding home life.

“This book is a story of optimism,” Biswas said, “Even though we only looked at women who came to the Unites States to work in high-skill jobs – jobs that typically require an advanced degree.”

Most of the women Biswas and Vijaya interviewed are Hindu women from upper castes in India and identified as middle and upper-middle class. Biswas said that even though there is a class bias, their inability to find many women from lower castes is telling of access and opportunity. The stories of these women are woven into a larger story of political and economic dimensions of the workplace and education in both the U.S. and India.

“I hope discussion at the book talk places the professional roles of women front-and-center and the reality of immigration and the everyday micro politics of immigrant women of color in the workplace and how they push against boundaries,” Biswas said.

The event is sponsored by the World Issues Forum, WGSS, the Department of Political Science, the Graduate School, and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.