How can I get into a “gendered organization” ?

In my empirical study „Doing Difference”, I looked at the question of how ethnic; class and gender-specific differences are constantly generated in interactions. I focused on the problem of “accountability”, the context dependency and the different weighting of these differences in different age cohorts. I wanted to analyze the “Doing Difference” in a primary school in Switzerland, Lucerne. The question arises as to the extent to which gender and social structures play a role in organizations. Are organizations genuinely responsible for gender differentiation?

However, gender differences play a significant role in the structures and processes of the organization. So, how can I get into a “gendered organization” and how it is possible to find out where and how it is gendered?

Concept of organization

First of all, I want to explain the expression “gendered organization”. The point of defining a ‘concept of organization’ has often been implicit in the gendered-organizations debate. An important one, coming back to Joan Acker and adopted by many other authors, equates organizations to other social units:

„To say that an organization, or any other analytical unit, is gendered means that advantage and disadvantage, exploitation and control, action and emotion, meaning and identity, are patterned through and in terms of a distinction between male and female, masculine and feminine.“ (Acker 1991, p. 167)

The author refers to social structures which, as well as the physicality of the subjects; inscribe gender differences as a central and fundamentally distinguishing criterion in all social processes. The organization of work and organizational structures, workplaces and work processes are oriented towards the idea of their professional role of “normal workers” and of “normal working conditions”.  These norms of normal workers and working conditions are considered as a male norm. Acker’s concept is therefore also closely linked to a constructivist perspective that defines gender as a component and result of ongoing interactive construction processes. For the organizational environment, therefore, not only perceptions and interpretations of gender-specific structures, but also the positioning of organizational members are important. Basically, it assumes that organizations are gendered. In this context I would like to examine and observe the processes of gendering as long as they can be observed.


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