Academic journal article Advancing Women in Leadership

Gendered Emotion Management and Perceptions of Affective Culture in a Military Nonprofit Organization

Academic journal article Advancing Women in Leadership

Gendered Emotion Management and Perceptions of Affective Culture in a Military Nonprofit Organization

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper explores the emotion work conducted by men and women in a nonprofit organization and their perceptions of the feeling rules in the organization. The study found that qualitative differences showing that women performed more emotion work than men were supported by a quantitative survey that measured perceptions of affective culture. Specifically, women were more likely than men to say that the culture of the organization required members to be affectively neutral (p<.007).

Keywords: Emotion management, Gender, Air Force, Volunteers

Gendered Emotion Management and Perceptions of Affective Culture in a Military Nonprofit Organization

Do gender and gender role affect how organization members feel about their organization's culture? A number of studies highlight that very young boys and girls handle emotions quite similarly; however, as they mature, girls begin to respond differently than boys in many situations (Brody & Hall, 1993). One must therefore question whether such differences are due to gender per se or are a consequence of social conditions. Damasio (1994) points out that emotions have both a "nature" and a "nurture" component, and empirical research has supported the concept of a strong social influence on emotion patterns (Simon & Nath, 2004). Thus, while gender may well imply different emotional perceptions in adulthood, socialization may well modify individuals' emotional responses. That is, socialization may not only affect how one experiences emotions, socialization may also determine how individuals perceive the environment that drives emotion.

It is, therefore, very possible that women have different emotional responses to situations not only because of gender differences per se, but also they have learned to perceive situations differently than men. In this paper, I focus on "situation" in terms of organizational culture and, more specifically, in terms of the emotional or affective aspects of organizational culture. I look at men and women in a military nonprofit organization and explore differences in both how they manage their emotions and how they perceive their organization's culture determines the way they are expected to deal with their feelings.

The present study was an outcome of a much larger study that looked at how patterns of managing emotions are associated with actions in a nonprofit organization that is largely affiliated with the United States Air Force (Fabian, 1998). A key finding of that study was that men and women in that organization had different patterns of emotion management. Specifically, women performed proportionately more emotion management than did men; this was manifested particularly in actions associated with the culture of the organization. The present study further explores male and female differences in emotion management in the organizational context. In addition, the current study builds on earlier work that looked at differences in perceptions of leadership among men and women (Alima-Metcalfe, 1995). The study presented here explores how perceptions of organizational affective culture differ for male and female leaders.

Because the organization has strong ties to the armed forces, the organizational culture is heavily influenced by the military culture. The culture of the military has traditionally been considered highly masculine (Dunivin, 1988; Snyder, 2003). Snyder (2003) articulates many of the socialization practices that stress a celebration of the masculine at the expense of the feminine. Because emotion is traditionally considered feminine (Simon & Nath, 2004), it is reasonable to expect that affective neutrality would be perceived more favorably in a military culture. In such environments, women tend to adopt a perspective of "ungendered professionalism" (Rosen, Knudson, & Fancher, 2003) and attempt to appear as one of the guys (Dunivin, 1988). Therefore, I believed that women would be more likely than men to emphasize the socially-desirable state of affective-neutrality in this organizational culture. …

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