Organisational cultures are generally created by men and therefore have male interests at heart. To this extent cultural processes actually work against women and serve to re-inforce their organisational powerlessness. This powerlessness reflects the distribution of power in society at large. In this sense culture mirrors social reality. Therefore through the process of the production of organisational culture, gender differences in organisations are reproduced.
(Cassell and Walsh, 1991:4)
Even though interaction between society and self occurs from the earliest time in a person's life (Mead, 1934; Leonard, 1984; and see Chapter 2), socialisation (the transmission of cultural values from one generation to the next) is a continuing process throughout the life cycle. Society and its social institutions are microcosmic representations of wider cultural contexts which are hierarchical and patriarchal, and entering professional life is akin to the more general socialisation process.
Entry into an organisation or a profession is the beginning of a specific socialisation, and professional organisations operate to ensure that new members are aware of the rules and values that ensure the perpetuation of the dominant culture of that organisation and group. That is not to say that cultures are intractable or inescapable, nor that individuals and groups never resist socialisation. However, the cultural mores of the organisation pre-exist the individual employee and operate to restrict entry, career progress and to influence behaviour in all spheres of the operation of the organisational culture.
In Part I I examined the complex interaction between human knowledge, reflexivity and the unconscious in the social construction of femininity and masculinity. I argued that all these features of human experience serve towards an individual sense of gendered biography.
In Part II the focus is upon how our gendered biographies enable us to relate to and resist professional socialisation in patriarchal organisations.