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Professor’s new book highlights immigration policy and gender

Dr. Amy Bhatt, associate professor of gender and women’s studies, recently authored the book “High Tech Housewives: Indian IT Workers, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration.” The book discusses the social, economic and political struggles that Indian migrants in the information technology field experience when transitioning to the United States. Additionally, “High Tech Housewives” analyzes the impacts of these barriers placed on IT migrants pertaining to women.

Immigration is a sensitive topic that has been brought to light in recent years within the U.S. “People tend to think about H-1B visa issues as problems that only affect men, failing to consider the often highly skilled spouses who come with them to the U.S.,” says Bhatt. According to the U.S. H-4 Visa program, female spouses of Indian IT workers can travel with them but are not given the rights to work.

Although these women may have the education and skill to work white collar jobs such as IT, they are not given the opportunity to do so due to immigration policies. Thus, the term “High-Tech Housewives” emerged. Bhatt delves deeper into how this aspect affects women’s self-identity and encounters within society.

In addition to her role as a professor of gender and women’s studies, Bhatt also serves as affiliate associate professor in the language, literacy and culture program and the Asian studies program. Through these roles, she has done extensive research on immigration policy, migration as it affects women and families and social reproduction.

Bhatt places much emphasis on immigration activism and South Asian community reform. “U.S. consumers depend on the global flow of goods and services in the tech, healthcare and higher education sectors,” she explains. “In a global high-tech economy, it is important to acknowledge the value that immigrants bring to our lives and how they are being threatened by immigration policy.” On Wednesday, Dec. 5, UMBC hosted a forum on Bhatt’s book in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery. The forum directly addressed topics that were discussed in “High-Tech Housewives” and included a book signing.

Bhatt has also published articles for several other news outlets worldwide. Most recently, she was featured in an article on KQED News that shared the story of Leena Bhai, a woman from India who is highly skilled and could be restricted from working in the near future. In addition, her article titled “Global Effects of High Skilled Immigration” was published in “GlobalAsia,” a digital news journal in Hong Kong. “While the program’s critics have argued that it displaces U.S. workers in favor of foreign immigrants, companies argue that H-1B allows them to recruit the best talent globally. Without a doubt, the program is closely related to labor and business interests between the U.S. and Asia,” she writes.

Through her work, Bhatt aims to break barriers for marginalized groups, particularly immigrants. In this way, her research and writing continuously contributes to the campus community.