Gender and Sexuality in the Workplace: Volume 20


Table of contents

(17 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Pages 1-14
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The chapters in this volume are the fruit of a feminist revolution in sociology that transformed conventional ways of thinking about work in the 1990s. Prior to the feminist revolution, the most important sociological theories that accounted for gender inequality in the workplace were human capital theories and socialization theories, both of which blamed women workers for their lower status and pay in the workplace (Schilt, 2010; Williams, 1995). Human capital theories argue that men and women receive different pay-offs from employment because they invest differently in their careers (Padavic & Reskin, 2002; Blau, Ferber, & Winkler, 1998; Polachek, 1981). Men seek higher education, skills training, and overtime at work because they are family breadwinners whose major responsibility is to support their wives and dependent children. Meanwhile, women invest less in the human capital valued by workplaces because their primary commitment is to their families. This theory assumes the heterosexual nuclear family, which is no longer the typical family form (Coontz, 1997). This rational choice perspective also fails to explain recent trends in women's educational attainment and labor force participation rates, now estimated to be equal to if not greater than men's (England, 2010).

Men maintain advantages in “women's” professions in large part because masculinity retains higher status than femininity even in feminized jobs mostly filled by women. Thus, men in these jobs tend to perform masculinity in very traditional ways, and are generally rewarded with increased access to higher-status positions, often with the cooperation and approval of their women coworkers. Yet much of the research in this area has neglected to explore how race intersects with gender to shape the ways men perform masculinity when they are employed in professions where they do “women's work.” How do men of color perform masculinity in female-dominated jobs? Are they able to engage in the expressions of masculinity documented among their white counterparts? Based on semi-structured interviews with black men nurses, I argue that these men encounter gendered racism from colleagues, supervisors, and customers that impacts the ways they construct and perform masculinity.

While women's labor force participation has increased, their positions vary in prestige, authority, autonomy, and segregation in comparison with men's. Earlier research in which they evaluate their job quality, however, finds women's job satisfaction to be the same or higher than men's, and nonwhites' job satisfaction lower than whites'. The present research examines perceived job satisfaction for a large national sample in 2002. In a model that includes human capital and work context variables, race continues to significantly impact job satisfaction. Sex and race segregation do not impact job satisfaction, but having supportive coworkers does. Such support is more characteristic of women's than men's work relationships in these data and may help account for women's comparable job satisfaction.

Sociologists have documented how women in male-dominated occupations experience subtle and overt forms of discrimination based on gender stereotypes. This study examines women professional chefs to understand how they perceive and respond to stereotypes claiming women are not good leaders, are too emotional, and are not “cut out” for male-dominated work. Many of our participants resist these stereotypes and believe that their gender has benefited them in their jobs. Using in-depth interviews with women chefs, we show that they utilize essentialist gendered rhetoric to describe how women chefs are better than their male counterparts. While such rhetoric appears to support stereotypes emphasizing “natural” differences between men and women in the workplace, we suggest that women are reframing these discourses into a rhetoric of “feminine strength” wherein women draw from gender differences in ways that benefit them in their workplaces and their careers. Our conclusion discusses the implications of our findings for gender inequality at work.

Gender inequality in the workplace is often attributed to the preponderance of men in positions of power. However, there is little empirical work investigating whether gender inequality is mitigated by having women in positions of power, and the work that does so is unable to match individual workers to those in positions of power over them. This study uses a survey of 2,000 small businesses to examine how gender differences in wages vary among establishments with male and female owners. We find no systematic differences between the levels of gender wage inequality in female owned small business and male owned small businesses.

This study examines the cultural tactics military women employ in US Army officer training in order to gain acceptance and integration into the institution, with a particular focus on their gender performances and gendered interactions. Based on a three-year, three-site ethnographic study of Army officer training, along with in-depth interviews with 17 female cadets, the study finds that women employ tactics from three main categories: emphasizing the feminine, embracing the masculine, and keeping a low profile. The study also provides evidence that Army women use tactics from multiple categories, and demonstrates how their tactics shift based on situation, context, and audience.

The formal and informal regulation of employees' appearance is a routine component of organizational life. In our research, we analyze appearance-related employment discrimination lawsuits. These cases involve organizational dress codes, grooming policies, and employers' attempts to regulate employees' appearance with regard to weight, hairstyles, religious attire, body art, and more. Men and women who refuse to comply with appearance norms face termination of their employment, promotion denials, lower wages, transfers, not being hired in the first place, and other workplace sanctions. Our focus on court deliberations and decisions allows us to explore not only the gendered nature of appearance policies themselves but also how the legal system supports, reinforces, codifies, or, conversely, deems unacceptable such policies. Our data demonstrate that organizations and courts are likely to support appearance norms that reinforce traditional ideas about femininity and masculinity.

Despite the absence of federal legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, many companies have adopted such policies in recent years. We examine the impact of several contextual factors thought to influence gender identity and expression nondiscrimination policy adoption among Fortune 500 firms from 1997 to 2007. Our findings suggest that city and state laws likely influence policy adoption, as do federal case rulings regarding gender nonconformity and the adoption of similar policies by companies in the same industry. We found little evidence that companies respond to state or city executive orders or to media coverage of gender identity issues in the workplace.

Based on an ethnographic study of a restaurant called the “Hungry Cowboy,” I examine how servers make use of sexual harassment claims within a sexually overt work culture. Focusing on the dynamics of a specific case, I explore how participation in sexual talk and touch provides positive rewards for some workers, operating as a source of craft pride, while laying the groundwork for exclusion of other workers. This study reveals how intersectionality plays out in the day-to-day behaviors and practices that make up workplace cultures, how white workers use a gendered tool to filter racism, the intentional manipulation of workplace culture by workers, and the unintended outcomes of sexual harassment laws.

Based on in-depth interviews with 64 women in 5 Japanese firms, this chapter examines how women workers interpret workplace sexual behaviors and interactions in different organizational contexts. The chapter explores the processes by which workplace sexual interactions, including harmful behaviors, are normalized and tolerated. It discusses three types of sexual workplace interactions in Japanese firms: (1) taking clients to hostess clubs, which women workers often see as “a part of their job”; (2) playing the hostess role at after-work drinking meetings, where a certain amount of touching and groping by men is seen as “joking around” or simply as behavior that is to be expected from men; and (3) repetitive or threatening sexual advances occurring during normal working hours, which are seen as harassment and cause women to take corrective action. The chapter confirms previous studies that have shown that women's interpretations of sexual behaviors can vary from enjoyable to harmful, depending on the organizational contexts. The chapter also argues that Japanese organizational culture, through its normalization of male dominance and female subordination, fosters and obscures harmful behaviors. Eradicating harmful sexual behaviors will require firms to reevaluate sexualized workplace customs and mitigate the large gender gap in the organizational hierarchy in Japanese firms.

This chapter draws on 17 months of ethnographic observations in the Parade department at an American theme park that I call Wonderland. The Parade department is a homonormative workplace, numerically and culturally dominated by gay men. I examine how this work culture challenges the dominance of heteronormative masculinity often embedded at work through an exploration of backstage interactions among performers. I also explore the gendered and racialized meanings of the camp aesthetic that performers embody. I argue that while Parade culture undermines workplace heteronormative masculinity, it also reproduces the epistemology of the closet through its reliance on the gay/straight binary.

This chapter examines the emergence of India as a site for surrogacy, which has led intended parents from all over the world to contract with Indian gestational surrogates to carry “their” babies for them. Through participant observation in a surrogacy workshop, interviews with American intended parents, and interviews with Indian surrogates, I show how ideologies of normative, nuclear families built around genetically similar children, drives American consumers' desires to seek fertility intervention, and, finally, surrogacy. In India, gender ideologies shape the contours of an inexpensive, compliant labor force of surrogate mothers.

About the authors

Pages 287-291
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Dina Banerjee is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Purdue Center for Faculty Success at Purdue University. She graduated with her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2009. Her areas of specialization are gender, work and occupation; development and social change; transnational feminism and globalization; and sociology of developing nations. In her doctoral dissertation she examined the effects of sex-segregation and racial/ethnic segregation on the job-related well being of women workers in the United States. She is the coauthor (with C. C. Perrucci) of “Race, Work Experiences and Perceived Promotional Opportunity,” published in the International Journal of Contemporary Sociology. Dr Banerjee is also associated with the Women's Studies Program at Purdue University. Before coming to the United States as a graduate student, she worked as a lecturer in the University of Calcutta (Kolkata, India).

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Research in the Sociology of Work
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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