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April 21, 2015

Labor Resource Center director receives Fulbright Grant

  • Boston
Susan Moir will study women in construction industry in India.

Susan Moir, director of UMass Boston’s Labor Resource Center, has earned a Fulbright Flex Award. Moir will travel to India in 2016 and 2017 to study women in the construction industry.

“India has the highest rate of women’s participation in the construction industry. I think they have a lot to teach us,” Moir said.

At the same time, Moir, whose area of expertise is women in the construction trades, says India could learn from practices here in the U.S.

“It is completely unregulated. There is no health and safety at all. There is no quality inspection at all,” Moir said. “In the West, women have a very hard time getting into a male-dominated industry and economic security. In the developing South[ern Hemisphere], women are often doing [that work] barefoot and with bricks on their heads – working in very dangerous conditions.”

Because of the flexible nature of this particular Fulbright grant, Moir will travel to India for three months starting in January to meet with academics and labor leaders there. She plans to blog and recruit people to travel to the United States. In 2017, she will go back to India with members of the U.S. labor industry. Moir said she’d like to set up a sustainable transnational exchange to explore and share conditions, best practices, and trends.

“The women in India are moving materials. They are manually doing what you see the machines doing in the Wheatley parking lot. You have an industry that is substantially female but also becoming increasingly mechanized. Who’s going to be put out of work?” Moir said.

In addition to her work at UMass Boston (this semester she is teaching Field Placements in Workers' Organizations) Moir is one of the co-conveners of the Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues (PGTI). In 2011, she co-authored the report Unfinished Business: Building Equality for Women in the Construction Trades.

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