Heterodox feminist scholars have argued that global trade patterns reflect patterns of competitive advantage—rather than comparative advantage—and that that competitive advantage is gendered. Further, they have suggested that we need more theoretical and empirical scholarship in this area. This paper assesses the state of the literature against this call to action for more feminist–heterodox work on trade, with an emphasis on the manufacturing sector. New strands on the impact of gender on global production have been developed, including (a) integrating gender relations into global value chain analysis, (b) empirical work examining possible trends in the de-feminization of industrial sectors with technological upgrading, and (c) conceptual and empirical work on the interplay between gender, social provisioning, informal work, and the informalization of formal work. The first two strands, although well developed, would benefit from more research that is better integrated with the third strand. Further, this whole range of scholarly work needs to contend more broadly with the causes and effects of persistent gender-based occupational segregation, which underpins all three strands of work. A lot of excellent work has been done, and yet, more scholarship is needed to best understand the extent to which employment in industrial exports can function as a means to gender equity, empowerment, and mobility.
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