Academic journal article Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry

Women in the Work Place: Broadening the Discussion on Gender

Academic journal article Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry

Women in the Work Place: Broadening the Discussion on Gender

Article excerpt

Abstract

Discrimination in the work place based on gender has been the subject of various studies; however, these studied have not discussed the possibility of the existence of superimposed psychographic characteristics, which could weaken or strengthen this practice of discrimination. The research presented here, enlightened by the ontological premise of post-modern criticism, seeks to verify whether the discrimination of the female gender in the work place is an isolated social phenomenon or if it is intertwined with other types of discrimination. To this end, a field study took place from March, 2006 to July, 2008, in public and private companies. Thirty-three women and thirty-seven men of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations were interviewed. The reports were transcribed and underwent discourse analysis. The field study revealed that: (a) women are, in fact, submitted to discriminatory practices in the work place, such practices which are not rarely hidden under a mask of humor and informality; (b) in spite of their macho attitudes and comments, the men who commit them don't perceive them as such; (c) Brazilian national culture prevails over organizational cultures; (d) gender cannot be treated as a fixed category since questions of esthetics, ethnic backgrounds, social class and sexual orientation accentuate the discrimination, and, finally; (e) contrary to what happens with blacks, ugly people, and homosexuals, towards whom discrimination is lighter when they occupy a more favorable social position or hierarchy, the same does not happen with women.

Keywords

Discrimination

Identity

Gender

Introduction

Social affiliations which are inherited and traditionally attributed to individuals as definitions of their identity, as ethnic background, gender, nationality and social class, are becoming more diluted (Bauman, 2005), and individualism increases to the degree that capitalism is crystallized as the predominant system regulating economic relations (Marcuse, 1973). Paradoxically, capitalism is responsible for making viable a space for the reflection of "I" (Silva, 2006) through the formation of collective social or union resistance movements which tried to establish a collective identity based on "us," which is dialectically opposed to "I." These collective political beings - workers, blacks, gays and women - which are the focus of this study, were formed on the basis of alternatives, or the construction of the "other" as opposed to the "I" (Ricoeur, 1994), and are found in every social body, including work organizations. These organizations have been treated as antiseptic environments in which individuals relate in a functional and neutral way aiming for common economic goals (Irigaray, 2007). This fixnctionalistic way of administrating neglects the fact that, in the same work place, there are individuals with distinct psychological backgrounds, genders, ages and lifestyles, who, in order to survive, many times keep quiet, hiding themselves under the cover of impersonal professionalism (Irigaray, 2007).

In the field of Organizational Studies, the diversity of the members of organizations has been analyzed through isolated prism: race or ethnic background (Alves, Galeao-Silva, 2004; Fleury, 2000), sight deficiency (Scott, 1964), facial deformities (Edwards; Watson, 1980), physical deficiency (Heinski, 2004, Carneiro; Ribeiro, 2008), sexual orientation (Irigaray, 2007); Siqueira, Ferreira; Zauli-Fellows, 2006) obesity (Homan et al, 2001), mental deficiency (Foley, 1979) or gender (Carvalho; Carvalho: Santos, 2002; Tonelli, 2001; Betiol, 2000). On what pertains to women, the studies cited point out that, in fact, women are discriminated against in the work place. However, the research did not consider the possible existence of overlying psychological characteristics, which could lessen or accentuate, for example, discrimination based on gender. …

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