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A double‐edged sword: twenty‐first century workplace trends and gender equality

Doris Ruth Eikhof (Stirling Management School, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 10 February 2012




The purpose of this paper is to uncover the hidden gender consequences of three current trends in the workplace, the increase in knowledge work, information and communication technology (ICT) and work‐life balance policies.


The paper synthesizes and analyses existing empirical evidence from research on knowledge work, work‐life balance and boundary, women's work and careers.


Knowledge work, ICT and work‐life balance policies are found to increase the temporal and geographical flexibility of work. Such enhanced flexibility should facilitate women's participation and advancement in work and therefore gender equality. However, all three trends also have hidden gender consequences that significantly prevent women from participating and advancing.

Research limitations/implications

Research needs to explicitly integrate evidence from across research areas and disciplines to appreciate the complexity and contentiousness of current workplace developments from a gender perspective.

Practical implications

A public debate is needed that better communicates and challenges the complexity of gender issues in the twenty‐first century workplace, in order to raise critical awareness amongst individual workers, as well as practitioners and policy makers, and to lead to better informed decision making.


A gender‐focused analysis and synthesis of evidence across the research areas included in this paper is currently lacking. The paper thus makes a novel contribution to the academic debate on gender equality in the workplace and provides an improved basis for better informed discussions between academics, policy makers and practitioners about how to achieve gender equality in today's world of work.



Ruth Eikhof, D. (2012), "A double‐edged sword: twenty‐first century workplace trends and gender equality", Gender in Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 7-22.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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