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Constituting gender and gender equality through policy: The political of gender mainstreaming in the Swedish forest industry

Elias Andersson (Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden)
Maria Johansson (Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)
Gun Lidestav (Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden)
Malin Lindberg (Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 20 November 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

In Sweden, gender mainstreaming policies have a long political history. As part of the national gender equality strategy of the Swedish forest industry, the ten largest forestry companies committed themselves to gender mainstream their policies. Limiting the impact of policies and the agency of change, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the varied and conflicting meanings and constitution of the concepts, the problem and, in extent, the organisational realities of gender mainstreaming.

Design/methodology/approach

In both, implementation and practice, gender mainstreaming posse challenges on various levels and by analysing these documents as practical texts from the WPR-approach. This paper explores constructions of gender and gender equality and their implications on the practice and the political of gender mainstreaming in a male-dominated primary industry.

Findings

The results show that the organisations themselves were not constituted as the subject of the policy but instead some of the individuals (women). The subject position of women represented in company policy was one of lacking skills and competences and in the need of help. Not only men and the masculine norms but organisational processes and structures were also generally invisible in the material. Power and conflict were mainly absent from the understanding of gender equality. Instead, consenting ideas of gender equality were the focus. Such conceptualisations of gender equality are beneficial for all risk concealing power structures and thereby limit the political space for change.

Originality/value

By highlighting the scale of policy and the significance of organisational contexts, the results indicate how gender and gender equality are constitutive through the governing technologies of neoliberal and market-oriented ideologies in policy – emphasising the further limiting of space for structural change and politicalization within the male-dominated organisations of Swedish forest industry.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper was produced within the following two R&D projects funded by Sweden’s National Innovation Agency VINNOVA 2013-2015: “Gender equality as joint strategy in the industry”, managed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and “From macho to modern: Gender equality in the forestry workplace”, managed by Luleå University of Technology.

Citation

Andersson, E., Johansson, M., Lidestav, G. and Lindberg, M. (2018), "Constituting gender and gender equality through policy: The political of gender mainstreaming in the Swedish forest industry", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 37 No. 8, pp. 763-779. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-10-2017-0208

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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