“Work is Just for Timepass”: Gendered Inversions of Productive and Non‐productive Time for Women Technology Workers in Bangalore

Fleming, Rachel

I sat on the hostel bed, legs folded under me. The evening was warm but not stifling, typical ofthe south Indian city of Bangalore. Sounds of car horns and people calling to each other drifted up fromthe street below. The women around me—Sunanda, Mrinalini, and Sunita, roommates in the tiny room— were on their phones, texting with female friends or male coworkers who they swore were just friends. Sunanda was telling me about some of her coworkers at the Information Technology (IT) company whereshe worked, who were, as she put it, “in love.” However, she argued that most of them would not marrythe person they loved, but would instead have arranged marriages. She explained, “Here in ‘city culture,’[dating] is only for timepass.” Later, when I asked the group what their work in IT meant to them, Sunitalaughed and said she liked earning, but to her, “Work, all this”—gesturing to the hostel room, and perhapsto the whole of Bangalore itself—“is for timepass.”