Women in the Caribbean region have a history of working in paid employment as well as participating in unpaid work. This article focuses on case studies from Barbados, St Lucia, and Trinidad, where, since the 1970s, many women have been employed in export-processing. In the factories, stereotypes about women’s ‘natural’ abilities have been used to devalue the skills they have brought to labour-intensive factory work, and to keep wages low. In order for the Caribbean to continue to compete in a competitive global employment market, and for women workers to continue to have access to paid employment, it is essential that women’s existing skills are augmented by training to meet the requirements of new industries, and that gender stereotypes concerning women’s abilities to perform male-dominated jobs are challenged.
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