US H-1B visa programme 'discriminates against women'
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The much sought after US H-1B visa programme, particularly among Indian technology graduates, discriminates against women, a Congressional Committee was told, citing that workers coming to America under the scheme were mostly men.
"My own experience tells me that the vast majority of H-1B workers are men. Everybody knows this in the US, where outsourcing companies get more than half the capped H-1B visas, the ratio is more like 85 per cent men. That's outrageous," Karen Panetta, a senior official with the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers-USA told Senators at a Congressional hearing.
At the hearing on, "How Comprehensive Immigration Reform Should Address the Needs of Women and Families" convened by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Panetta alleged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not providing data related to how many women were issued the H-1B visas.
"Why doesn't DHS already know exactly how many women get H-1B visas? If a major immigration programme effectively discriminated based on race or national origin, would that be okay? We urge this Committee to set aside any legislation proposing to increase H-1B visas until we have this data," she said.
"Surely you would not want to have voted substantial increases in the H-1B programme, only to discover that the data shows that not only is it mostly used by outsourcers whose business model is entirely about replacing American workers, but also that the H-1B visa programme effectively pushes women out of the STEM fields," Panetta said.
Responding to questions from Senators, Panetta said that in countries like India, some of the top graduates are women, and yet they don't get opportunities to come to the US.
"So by providing STEM-educated people with the opportunity to come to the US, men and women, we believe that that would be able to make an impact on the number of women and diversity in the workforce, which has also huge cultural work environment implications," Panetta, vice president, Communications and Public Awareness from the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers – SA said.
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