Based on a small (N=154) survey and qualitative interviews among 38 male and female respondents, this article examines the factors explaining gender selectivity among Filipino labor migrants in Rome, where women are around 70 percent of this nationality group. Besides an analysis of the demand for female immigrant labor in the domestic service sector, the article explores ‘supply’ factors, ranging from economic and labor market conditions in the Philippines to noneconomic constraints, such as ideologies and gender expectations. The research findings indicate that migrant women’s commitments and obligations toward their households in home areas are generally stronger than those of their male counterparts. However, spatial distance and increased financial independence may provide some women with the opportunity to pursue ‘self-interested’ goals while at the same time keeping within the ‘altruistic’ role dictated by normative gender roles.
©1999 Wiley. Reproduced with permission of Blackwell Publishing Ltd.