Influences of education on gender and status: a study of Sri Lankan export processing zone workers
Place of Publication
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Arts and Humanities
Sri Lankan women employed by export processing zones (EPZs) represent various educational levels. Using a survey sample of 2,304 randomly selected female EPZ workers, this paper quantitatively compared workers with ordinal-level secondary education – O- levels – and below (n = 1,423) – and those with advanced-level secondary education – A-levels – and above (n = 878). Overall, the ‘higher educated’ women reported more positive socio-economic outcomes than their ‘lower educated’ counterparts. Mann-Whitney U tests demonstrated greater earning (saving) capacities among ‘higher educated’ women; with Pearson’ s chi-square test of contingencies revealing that this cohort were also more likely to receive promotions than ‘lower educated’ women. Although reports of abuse (harassment) were generally low among both sub-samples, ‘lower educated’ female EPZ workers were more likely to experience verbal abuse, sexual harassment and public humiliation. Despite such inter-group polarisation, a near consensus of all participants reported feeling greater empowerment as a result of their time in formal employment.