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Gender inequality in the work environment: a study of private research organizations in India

Namrata Gupta (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur, India)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 18 April 2017




Since liberalization in the 1990s, India has witnessed a growth in the number of educated middle-class women in professions. However, there are few women in leadership positions and decision-making bodies. While the earlier notion of the ideal woman as homemaker has been replaced by one which idealizes women of substance, a woman’s role in the family continues to be pivotal and is even viewed as central in defining Indian culture. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how and to what extent gender inequalities are reproduced in the organizations employing educated professionals.


Based on the perspective that gender is socially constructed, this paper analyzes gender inequality in Indian organizations through semi-structured interviews of men and women scientists in two private pharmaceutical laboratories.


The findings show reproduction of a gendered normative order through two types of norms and practices: one, norms and practices that favor men and second, socio-cultural norms that devalue women in public spaces which help to maintain masculinity in the workplace. Although these practices might be found elsewhere in the world, the manner in which they are enacted reflects national cultural norms.


The paper highlights how various norms and practices enacted in the specific Indian socio-cultural context construct and maintain masculinity at workplace depriving opportunities to professional women which affect their rise to leadership positions.



This paper is based on a Senior Fellowship award of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, vide Fellowship No. F.No. 2−11/10/S.Fel. The author was affiliated to IIT Kanpur for this project.


Gupta, N. (2017), "Gender inequality in the work environment: a study of private research organizations in India", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 255-276.



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