Transnational Tradeswomen

A film by Vivian Price

2006 | 62 minutes | Color | DVD | Thai, Chinese, Tamil, Urdu, Japanese | Subtitled | Order No. 07911


Inspired by organizers at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, former construction worker Vivian Price spent years documenting the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia – discovering several startling facts. Capturing footage that shatters any stereotypes of delicate, submissive Asian women, Price discovers that women in many parts of Asia have been doing construction labor for centuries. But conversations with these women show that development and the resulting mechanization are pushing them out of the industry. Their stories disturb the notion of “progress” that many people hold and show how globalization, modernization, education and technology don’t always result in gender equality and the alleviation of poverty.

Celebrating a range of women workers – from a Japanese truck driver, to two young Pakistani women working on a construction site in Lahore, to a Taiwanese woman doing concrete work alongside her husband – this film deftly probes the connections in their experiences. In a segment exploring the history of the Samsui women in Singapore (Chinese women who were recruited as construction laborers in the 1920's until they lost their jobs to mechanization in the 1970’s) unique archival footage and interviews with surviving Samsui offer an importation perspective on the historical and global scope of women workers’ struggles.


“Implodes the stereotype of weak and submissive Asian females… [W]omen are not often recognized for their part in actually building the many edifices that have sprung up in urban center across this region. Informative for students in high school through college.”

Asian Educational Media Service

"An important and inspiring film. Recommended."

Educational Media Reviews Online

“Graphic and eloquent…Capturing both the common and distinct forms of sexism and oppression, [this film] demonstrates women's heroic efforts to unionize and fight for their rights as workers.”

Mary Romero Professor of Justice Studies and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University

“Provocative and compelling … offers rare insight into the impact of globalization and workers' dignified acts of resistance and independence. A highly recommended educational resource.”

Linda Trinh Vo Associate Professor, Asian American Studies, Irvine, University of California

"A unique view…It provides a rich sense of women's identities and agencies.”

Leela Fernandes Associate Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University

“Impressive…Shatters stereotypes of Asian women and sheds much needed light on the experiences of tradeswomen within a transnational perspective. Ideal for courses on gender and globalization; the global political economy; gender and work; gender and race-ethnicity.”

Charlene Tung Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Sonoma State University

"A real eye-opener about the different ways sexism operates in the job market.”

Karen Brodkin Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies, UCLA

"A rare on-the-ground view…Presents a powerful dialogue about the need for and possibilities of solidarity across national borders."

Nancy A. Naples Professor of Women’s Studies and Sociology, University of Connecticut

"…challenge[s] popular myths about the alleged benefits wrought by the borderless world of globalization, exposing instead how capital accumulation is subsidized by marginalized workers across the globe that are disproportionately women."

Signs Journal of Women in Culture & Society


  • CINE Golden Eagle Award
  • Taiwan Public Television
  • University of California Film and Video Center
  • Milwaukee Women's Film Festival


Vivian Price

Ms. Price is a videographer with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, and is a union electrician. She produced FACES OF TRADESWOMEN, commissioned by the U.S. Women's Bureau, and IN MY OWN WORDS, AGAINST ALL ODDS, the story of the first African-American journeywoman in the electrician's union in Los Angeles. She also produced GENDER IN THE GLOBAL CONSTRUCTION SITE for the Beijing Women's Conference.

Price currently teaches Interdisciplinary Studies in the Department of Arts and Humanities at California State University, Dominguez Hills. (7/12)


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