The purpose of this paper is to discuss the gender practices of a female urban bus driver who retired after 40 years (1967-2007) in an urban bus company in northern Spain. The main objective of this study was to explore and understand the move from irreflexive to reflexive practices from a gender perspective, and to uncover new key aspects relating to the influence of women in organizational changes.
This qualitative exploratory study (interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)) contains semi-structured interviews which explore, using a process of analytic induction, the personal- and work-related experiences of a woman who was a pioneer in the traditionally male-dominated field of urban bus services. In order to obtain a broader overview of the organization, and using the same method, four other female bus drivers from the same company were also interviewed, along with the personnel manager.
Three different situations are presented. The first summarizes the woman’s personal motivations and hesitations during the 1960s regarding her decision to become a bus driver, occurring during her adolescence and pre-professional phase; the second illustrates the organizational and social reactions triggered by the (visible) presence of a lone woman in a traditionally male professional environment (resistance); and finally, the third situation shows the empowerment and organizational change which occurred, focussing on the possible deconstruction of the masculine hegemony at the heart of the organization.
The IPA points to a new level of visibility of this transgressed traditional role, which combined both individual and collective actions. Her experiences recount how she overcame individual, organizational and social barriers. The authors suggest a new interpretation of this visibility, enabling us to imagine gender practice as an intersection of people, organizational change and society.
The authors would like to thank the Basque Women’s Institute “EMAKUNDE” (Basque Government) for funding research project num. 6/2006 and Diana Draper for her help with the English translation of the text.
Sanchez de Miguel, M., Lizaso, I., Larranaga, M. and Arrospide, J.J. (2015), "Women bus drivers and organizational change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 117-133. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-07-2013-0120
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