Women, Work and Agency: An Introduction

  • Zakir HusainEmail author
  • Mousumi Dutta
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Sociology book series (BRIEFSSOCY)


This chapter sets the tone of the book by laying out its conceptual framework, the context of the study and the issue to be examined. It defines empowerment, examines different empirical approaches to measure empowerment—particularly Amartya Sen’s capability approach—and contrasts empowerment with agency. The methodology of the study and sample profile is also described.


Empowerment Agency Capability 


  1. Agarwal, B. (1994). A field of one’s own: Gender and land rights in South Asia, Cambridge: New Delhi.Google Scholar
  2. Alkire, S. (2008). Concepts and measures of agency. OPHI Working Paper Series, Working Paper No. 9. Oxford: Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.Google Scholar
  3. Balestrino, A., & Sciclone, N. (2000). Should we use functionings instead of income to measure wellbeing? Theory, and some evidence from Italy. Mimeo: University of Pisa.Google Scholar
  4. Banerjee, N. (1991). Indian women in a changing industrial scenario. New Delhi: Sage Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Banerjee, N. (1992). Poverty, work and gender in urban India. Occasional Papers No. 133, Kolkata: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.Google Scholar
  6. Batliwala, S. (1994). The meaning of women’s empowerment: New concepts from action. In G. Sen, A. Germain, & L. Chen (Eds.), Population policies reconsidered, Havard series on population and international health. Boston: Harvard University Press, 127–138.Google Scholar
  7. Bhattacharya, J. (2008). Self help groups and capability enhancements: A study in two selected districts of West Bengal. Mimeograph. Siena, Italy: Department of Economia and Politica, Sienna University.Google Scholar
  8. Braunstein, E. (2008). Women’s employment, empowerment and globalization: An economic perspective. New York, United Nations: Division for the advancement of women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.Google Scholar
  9. Centre for Organization Development. (2004). Final Report on Women in Information Technology. Hyderabad: Report submitted to Department of Women and Child, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.Google Scholar
  10. Chakrabarti, S., & Sharma Biswas, C. (2008). Women empowerment, household condition and personal characteristics: Their interdependencies in developing countries. Discussion paper. Kolkata: Economic Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute.Google Scholar
  11. Clarke, A., & Sekher, T. V. (2007). Can career-minded young women reverse gender discrimination? A View from Bangalore’s High Tech Sector, Gender, Technology and Development, 11(3), 285–319.Google Scholar
  12. Crocker, D., & Robeyns, I. (2008). Capability and Agency. Draft manuscript, 18 January.Google Scholar
  13. Drydyk, J. (2008a). Durable empowerment. Journal of Global Ethics, 4(3), 231–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Drydyk, J. (2008b). How to distinguish empowerment from agency? Retrieved May 4 2013 from
  15. Elson, D., & Pearson. (1981). Nimble fingers make cheap workers: An analysis of women’s employment in third world export manufacturing. Feminist Review, 7, 87–107.Google Scholar
  16. Fuller, C.J., & Narasimhan, H. (2007). Information technology professionals and the New-Rich middle class in Chennai (Madras), Modern Asian Studies, 41(1), 121–150.Google Scholar
  17. Goetz, A. M., & Gupta, R. S. (1996). Who takes the credit? Gender, power and control over loan use in rural credit programs in Bangladesh. World Development, 24(1), 45–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodman, L. A. (1961). Snowball sampling. Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 32(1), 148–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hakim, C. (1991). Grateful slaves and self made women: Fact and fantasy in women’s work orientation. European Sociological Review, 7(2), 101–121.Google Scholar
  20. Hakim, C. (1995). Five feminist myths about women’s employment. British Journal of Sociology, 46(3), 429–455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hakim, C. (1996a). The sexual division of labor and women’s heterogeneity. British Journal of Sociology, 47(1), 178–188.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hakim, C. (1996b). Key issues in women’s work: Female heterogeneity and the polarization of women’s employment. London: Athlone.Google Scholar
  23. Hirschbeerg, J. G., Maasoumi, E., & Slotje, D. J. (2001). Clusters of attribute and well-being in the USA. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 16, 445–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hobijn, B., & Frances, P. H. (2000). Asymptotically perfect and relative convergences of productivity. Journal of Econometrics, 15, 59–81.Google Scholar
  25. Inda, J.X., & Rosaldo, R. (2002). The anthropology of globalization: A reader. Basil Blackwell: Massachusets.Google Scholar
  26. International Labour Organization. (2009). Global employment trends for women, March 2009. Geneva: International Labour Organization.Google Scholar
  27. Kabeer, N. (1999). The conditions and consequences of choice: Reflections on the measurement of women's empowerment. UNRISD Discussion Paper 108. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.Google Scholar
  28. Klassen, S. (2000). Measuring poverty and deprivation in South Africa. Review of Income and Wealth, 46, 33–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kuklys, W. (2005). Amartya Sen’s capability approach: Theoretical insignts and empirical applications. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. Lelli, S. (2001). Factor analysis vs. fuzzy sets theory: Assessing the influence of different techniques on Sen’s functioning approach. KU Leuven: Center of Economic Studies, Discussion Paper, DPS 1.21.Google Scholar
  31. Leavitt, H.J., & Whisler T.L. (1958). Management in the 1980s, Harvard Business Review, 11(Nov–Dec), 41–48.Google Scholar
  32. Lim, L. Y. C. (1990). Women’s work in export factories: The politics of a cause. In Irene Tinker (Ed.), Persistent inequalities: Women and world development (pp. 101–119). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Maasoumi, E., & Nickelsburg, G. (1988). Multi-variate measures of well-being and an analysis of inequality in the Michigan data. Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, 6(3), 327–334.Google Scholar
  34. Martinetti, E. C. (2000). A multidimensional assessment of well-being based on Sen’s functioning approach. Rivista Internationale di Scienze Sociali, 2, 207–239.Google Scholar
  35. Mayoux, L. (1998). Participatory learning for women’s empowerment in microfinance programmes: Negotiating complexity, conflict and change. IDS Bulletin, 29(4), 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mcgee, V. E., & Carlton, W. T. (1970). Piecewise regression. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 65, 1109–1124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mitter, S., & Rowbotham, S. (Eds.). (1995). Women encounter technology: Changing patterns of employment in the third world. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Moser, C. O. N., & Clark, F. C. (Eds.). (2001). Victims, perpetrators or actors? Gender, armed conflict and political violence. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  39. Narayan, D. (Ed.). (2005). Measuring empowerment: Cross-disciplinary perspectives. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  40. NASSCOM. (2003). The IT-BPO sector in India: Strategic review, 2003. New Delhi: NASSCOM.Google Scholar
  41. Nussbaum, M. C. (1988). Nature, function and capability: Aristotle on political distribution. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 6, 145–184.Google Scholar
  42. Nussbaum, M. C. (1990). Aristotelian social democracy. In B. Douglas, G. Mara, & H. Richardson (Eds.), Liberalism and the God (pp. 203–252). New York: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Nussbaum, M. C. (1995). Human capabilities, female human beings. In Martha C. Nussbaum & Jonathan Glover (Eds.), Women, culture and development (pp. 61–104). Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nussbaum, M. C. (2000). Women and human development: The capabilities approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oxaal, Z., & Baden S. (1997). Gender and empowerment: Definitions, approaches and implications for policy. Brighton, UK: Briefing prepared for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.Google Scholar
  46. Oxfam, (1995). The oxfam handbook of relief and development. Oxford: Oxfam.Google Scholar
  47. Parvin, G. A., Reazaul Ahsan, S. M., & Rahman Chowdhury, M. (2004). Women empowerment performance of income generating activities supported by rural women employment creation project (RWECP): A case study in Dumuria Thana, Bangladesh. The Journal of Geo-Environment, 4, 47–62.Google Scholar
  48. Piccolo, D. (1970). A distance measure for classifying ARIMA Models. Journal of Time Series, 11, 153–164.Google Scholar
  49. Qizilbash, M. (1998). The concept of well-being. Economics and Philosophy, 14, 51–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Qizilbash, M. (2002). A note on the measurement of poverty and vulnerability in the South African context. Journal of International Development, 14, 757–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rahman, A. (1998). Micro-credit initiative for equitable and sustainable development: Who pays? World Development, 26(1), 67–82.Google Scholar
  52. Raiser, M., Di Tomasso M. L., & Weeks M. (2000). The measurement and determination of institutional change: Evidence from transition economics. DAE Working Paper, 29.Google Scholar
  53. Robeyns, I. (2003). Sen’s capability approach and gender inequality: Selecting relevant capabilities. Feminist Economics, 9(2–3), 61–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roemer, J. E. (1996). Theories of distributive justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Schokkaert, E., & Van Ootegem, L. (1990). Sen’s concept of the living standard applied to the Belgian unemployed. Recherches Economiques de Louvauin, 56, 429–450.Google Scholar
  56. Sen, A. K. (1983). Development: Which way now? Economic Journal, 93, 745–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sen, A. K. (1984). Resources, values and development. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  58. Sen, A. K. (1985). Commodities and capabilities. Oxford: Elsevier Science Publisher.Google Scholar
  59. Sen, G., & Grown C. (1985). DAWN, development, crises, and alternative visions: Third world womens perspectives. New Delhi: Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era.Google Scholar
  60. Sen, A. K. (1990a). Development as capability expansion. In K. Griffin & J. Knight (Eds.), Human development and the international development strategy for the 1990s (pp. 41–58). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  61. Sen, A. K. (1990b). Gender and co-operative conflicts. In I. Tinker (Ed.), Persistent inequalities: Women and world development (pp. 129–149). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Sen, A. K. (1992). Inequality re-examined. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  63. Sen, A. K. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  64. Sen, A. K. (2004). Capabilities, lists, and public reason: Continuing the conversation. Feminist Economics, 10(3), 77–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Shanker, D. (2008). Gender relations in IT companies. Gender, Technology and Development, 12(2), 185–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Simon, H.A. (1956). Rational choice and the structure of the environment. Psychological Review, 63(2), 129–138.Google Scholar
  67. Srinivasan, T. N. (1994). Human development: A new paradigm or reinvention of the wheel? American Economic Review, 84(2), 238–243.Google Scholar
  68. Sugden, R. (1993). Welfare, resources, and capabilities: A review of inequality reexamined by Amartya Sen. Journal of Economic Literature, 31, 1947–1962.Google Scholar
  69. Swain, R. B. (2006). Can microfinance empower women? Self-help groups in India. Mimeograph. Uppsala: Department of Economics, Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  70. UNDP. (1995). Human development report 1995. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. United Nations. (1995). Report of the fourth world conference on women, Beijing.Google Scholar
  72. Williams, B. (1987). The standard of living: Interests and capabilities. In G. Hawthorn (Ed.), The standard of living (pp. 94–102). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Williams, S., Seed, J., & Mwau, A. (1994). Oxfam gender training manual. Oxford: Oxfam.Google Scholar
  74. World Bank. (2012). Towards gender equality in East Asia and the Pacific. Washington D.C.: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  75. Ysander, B.-C. (1993). Robert Erikson: Descriptions of inequality. In Nussbaum, M. & Sen, A. K. (Eds.), The quality of life. Clarendon: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Zareen, F., & Khan, S. A. (2001). BRAC’s microcredit programme: A case of Gohethra Sromojeebee women’s co-operative. Empowerment, Women for Women, 8, 63–82.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsPresidency UniversityKolkataIndia

Personalised recommendations