Journal article written by 2011 DPDF Migration and Gender Studies co-director Donna Gabaccia in Atlantic Studies: Global Currents.
Despite recent efforts to describe the changing relationship of the Atlantic to the wider world, scholars do not agree on the periodization of global integration and the end of the Atlantic’s status as a unique macro-region. They do, however, agree that mass migratory flows are a constitutive element of global integration; some social sciences argue further that recent global integration has produced the feminization of migratory movements across all world regions. This paper traces the gender composition of long distance migrations from the early modern slave trades to the twentieth century. It finds convergence in gendered patterns of migration beginning already in the early twentieth century and argues that feminization of international migrations was complete by 1960. Global convergence toward gender balance in the twentieth century – commonly called feminization – was neither the product of predictable gender relations of power nor was it indicative of the feminization of the global – formerly understood as masculine realm of conflict – as a new domestic, cooperative space of female emancipation. While the figure of the female migrant does increasingly represent contemporary global migrations discursively, the iconic female is viewed as a victim of trafficking and exploitation.