The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded health care provider in the country. It is the largest non-military employer in the world. Similar to US medical services, it is heavily dependent on migrant doctors to deliver essential medical services. Many accounts, though, find evidence for inequality in their careers and pay.
Twenty six percent of UK doctors have obtained their primary medical qualification overseas, migrating from the European Economic Area (EEA) or further afield (international medical graduate or IMG). Research on the experience of women doctors and on migrant doctors can be located, but with a notable exception. It is less common to see gender and place of qualification considered together. So, we wanted to know – do NHS migrant doctors experience pay gaps compared with their UK-trained counterparts? Are they worse for women? And if so, how can they be narrowed?
How far are we from achieving gender equality in the division of labor at home and at work? Across the world, women spend more time on unpaid domestic work, and men do more labor market work. This gender division of labor is the cause and the consequence of many other forms of gender inequalities, such as the gender pay gap and the tendency for men and women to work in different jobs.
Yet gender relations are changing. Nowadays in most industrialised societies more women than men go to the university. More women have jobs than before, even after they have become mothers. Have we witnessed a gender revolution in the division of labor accordingly? In other words, are men doing more housework, and are women doing more labor market work?
In January 21 of 2016, Bloomberg Businessweek published a cover story titled “Why Doesn’t Silicon Valley Hire Black Coders”. Vauhini Vara followed a cohort of Black computer science students enrolled at Howard University located in Washington, D.C., one of the oldest historically Black universities in the United States. Even after a Google engineer upgrades the curriculum, students in this cohort are denied opportunities to work full time in Silicon Valley. Vara informs the reader that “although 20 percent of all black computer science graduates attend a historically black school … the Valley wasn’t looking for those candidates”.
In this same year, Reveal’s Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed the diversity reports of Silicon Valley technology firms. It found that Black employees made up no more than 2 percent of the 23 companies, who had released their figures. Eight of the twenty-three companies that provided their demographics including Google, Twitter, Square and 23andMe, did not report a single Black woman in an executive role. In a separate study conducted by The Ascend Foundation, a pan-Asian foundation, found that the number of Black and Latinx women had actually declined between 2014 and 2017.
Organizing is hard. It is hard to organize workers to improve their working conditions and seek redress for workplace abuse. And it is especially hard to organize low-wage workers who inhabit the deregulated, fissured workplaces of the post-Fordist labor market.
The challenges of organizing low-wage workers are as much structural and institutional as they are tactical. Formal legal protections are only as good as the ability of workers to engage in individual and collective claims-making to pull the “fire alarm” of a wage theft claim, prompt an Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) investigation, or initiate a sexual harassment complaint, for example. Worker advocates have stepped in to help bridge that gap. Their work is more critical now than ever as union membership has plummeted and is nearly nonexistent in many of the jobs and industries that many vulnerable workers occupy.
To this end, worker centers and other alt-labor groups have developed creative mobilization strategies to support worker claims and build worker power in the low-wage labor market. Since 2008, we have engaged in research with low-wage workers who participated in the individual and collective claims making processes of two worker centers, one in Chicago and the other in the San Francisco Bay area, both serving low-wage, mainly immigrant worker constituency.
As Julia, a 28-year-old college graduate in Madrid, Spain, described she and her friends’ persistent experiences with unemployment and precarious, low-paying employment, she burst into tears:
“We’re doing badly in absolutely everything…It’s a limbo, what I call the professional limbo, in which the logical progression, which is you study, you go to high school, college, you have a job, has changed completely.”
Nonetheless, when Julia imagined her life in five years, she described herself in a stable professional trajectory—in a job she disliked as a private school teacher, but one she would be in permanently: