Work & Organizations

Gender & Society in the Classroom: Work & Organizations

Organized by: Vicki Dryfhout, PhD from University of Cincinnati
Updated by: Erielle Jones, University of Illinois – Chicago

These theoretical and analytical articles examine the ways in which gender segregation is reinforced and reproduced through work and organizations. Several articles emphasize the importance of understanding the role of race and class and intersectional analyses in studies of gender segregation in these spheres, while others place an emphasis on understanding organizational context and its role in creating gender segregation within work and occupations. While women have increasingly entered the workforce their entrance into typically male-dominated occupations has been slow and when women enter these male-dominated fields inequalities persist in the way of assignments, jobs, pay and attrition. Conversely, men have been slow to enter female-dominated occupations but experience an advantage when they do enter these occupations. Overall, these articles highlight the impact of formal and informal practices and processes (e.g., hiring and wage setting, co-worker and supervisor support) and norms and beliefs (e.g., ideal worker norm, gender essentialism) in maintaining gender segregation in work and organizations while emphasizing the importance of viewing through a lens of intersectionality.

Ridgeway, Cecilia, Rachel M. Korn and Joan C. Williams. 2022. “Documenting the Routine Burden of Devalued Difference in the Professional Workplace.” Gender and Society 36(5):627-651.
Professional workplaces that embody an “ideal worker” image that is implicitly white and male set-up persistent biases against the competence and suitability for authority of those who are not white men, forcing them to work harder to prove their competence and fit in. The added labor of coping with these burdens is largely invisible to dominant actors in the workplace who do not experience them. To facilitate change by making such burdens visible for all, we present data from a survey of 1,349 architects, including white, Asian, Black, Latinx, and mixed race/other underrepresented men and women, about their specific behavioral experiences of prove-it-again (competence) bias, tightrope (authority) bias, problems of fit, exclusion, emotion work, and interruptions. Across all measures, white men architects report significantly lower levels of these burdens than do women of any race and almost all non-white men. Consistent with status expectations and stereotype prototypicality theories, we find intersectional patterns in the relative burdens experienced by women and men of different racial groups. Gender differences in bias experiences are greatest among white, less among Asian, and least among Black architects. Women of color report the highest levels of bias overall.

Ward, Kristy. 2022. “Gender Regimes and Cambodian Labor Unions.” Gender & Society 36 (4): 578–601.
Globally, labor unions have been criticized for being highly gendered, patriarchal organizations that struggle to engage with, and represent, women. In Cambodia, the disparity between women’s activism and organizational power is particularly acute. Women workers are the face of the labor movement, yet they remain excluded from union leadership despite some movement toward more progressive gender policies within unions. Using data from semi-structured interviews with workers and union leaders in the construction and garment sectors, I illustrate how gendered narratives and practices of control are mobilized through gender regimes that operate in the household, the workplace, and unions. I propose an analytical framework that incorporates these three interlocking gender regimes to draw attention to the contradictory role of unions in advocating for worker rights while depoliticizing women’s activism and sustaining gender inequity. I argue that it is the contradictory relationship between these regimes that entrenches women’s subordination within unions despite their numerical strength.

Oh, Eunsil, & Eunmi Mun. 2022. “Compensatory Work Devotion: How a Culture of Overwork Shapes Women’s Parental Leave in South Korea.” Gender & Society 36 (4): 552–577.
Despite growing concerns that parental leave policies may reinforce the marginalization of mothers in the labor market and reproduce the gendered division of household labor, few studies examine how women themselves approach and use parental leave. Through 64 in-depth interviews with college-educated Korean mothers, we find that although women’s involvement in family responsibilities increases during leave, they do not reduce their work devotion but reinvent it throughout the leave-taking process. Embedded in the culture of overwork in Korean workplaces, women find it justifiable to use leave only when they are highly committed to work and adjust the length of leave to accommodate workplace demands. Upon returning to work, they try to compensate for their absence by working harder than before, thereby showing that they are more committed than their colleagues. Given this “compensatory” work devotion, women question their own entitlement in the workplace, and some quit when they cannot meet their goal of compensating by doing more than others. This study highlights how the workplace culture shapes women’s work devotion during and after leave.

Hsiung, Constance. 2022. “Gender-Typed Skill Co-Occurrence and Occupational Sex Segregation: The Case of Professional Occupations in the United States, 2011–2015.” Gender & Society 36 (4): 469–497.
Studies of occupational sex segregation rely on the sociocultural model to explain why some occupations are numerically dominated by women and others by men. This model argues that occupational sex segregation is driven by norms about gender-appropriate work, which are frequently conceptualized as gender-typed skills: work-related tasks, abilities, and knowledge domains that society views as either feminine or masculine. The sociocultural model thus explains the primary patterns of occupational sex segregation, which conform to these norms: Requirements for feminine (masculine) skills increase with women’s (men’s) representation in the occupation. However, the model does not adequately explain cases of segregation that deviate from these norms or investigate the ways in which feminine and masculine skills co-occur in occupations. The present study fills these gaps by evaluating two previously untested explanations for deviations from the sociocultural model. The findings show that requirements for physical strength (a masculine skill) increase with women’s representation in professional occupations because physical strength skills co-occur with substantially higher requirements for feminine skills that involve helping and caring for others. These results indicate that the sociocultural model, and more generally explanations for how gender norms drive occupational sex segregation, can be improved by examining patterns of gender-typed skill co-occurrence.

Kan, Man-Yee; Muzhi Zhou; Kamila Kolpashnikova; Ekaterina Hertog; Shohei Yoda; and Jiweon Jun. 2022. Revisiting the Gender Revolution: Time on Paid Work, Domestic Work, and Total Work in East Asian and Western Societies 1985–2016”. Gender & Society, 36(3): 368-396
We analyze time use data of four East Asian societies and 12 Western countries between 1985 and 2016 to investigate the gender revolution in paid work, domestic work, and total work. The closing of gender gaps in paid work, domestic work, and total work time has stalled in the most recent decade in several countries. The magnitude of the gender gaps, cultural contexts, and welfare policies plays a key role in determining whether the gender revolution in the division of labor will stall or continue. Women undertake more total work than men across all societies: The gender gap ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. Our findings suggest that cultural norms interact with institutional contexts to affect the patterns of gender convergence in time use, and gender equality might settle at differing levels of egalitarianism across countries.

Ahmad, Sadaf. 2022. “Coping with Conundrums: Lower Ranked Pakistani Policewomen and Gender Inequity at the Workplace”. Gender & Society, 36(2), 264–286.
Scholarship on gender and policing has frequently applied gendered organizational theory to understand how this type of organization and the men who run it produce gendered difference and inequity at the workplace. In this article, I draw on ethnographic research on lower ranked policewomen in Pakistan and contend that to fully fathom women’s marginalization at work, an analysis must not limit itself to the organization or the men who create the inequity but must also focus on women’s workplace behavior. My research sheds light on women’s anxieties about working with a large number of men and about people questioning their morality and character because they do so. I also demonstrate how their subsequent coping strategies can impede their professional development and reproduce their marginalization at their workplace. This woman-centric approach, which examines how policewomen navigate gendered landscapes in different patriarchal social spaces, therefore shows that workplace inequity is the collective result of the interplay between different actors and social structures, and leads to a more complex understanding of this phenomenon.

Bird, Sharon R., and Laura A. Rhoton. 2021. “Seeing Isn’t Always Believing: Gender, Academic STEM, and Women Scientists’ Perceptions of Career Opportunities.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 422-448.
Studies about women’s underrepresentation in the U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academic workforce have flourished in the past decade. Much of this research focuses on institutionalized gender barriers and implicit biases, consistent with theorizing about how work organizations disproportionately benefit men, white people, and other systemically advantaged groups. But to what extent do faculty most likely disadvantaged by systematic inequities actually perceive “barriers” to equity in the context of their own work lives? What might the repercussions associated with variation in perceptions about inequity be, especially within institutions of higher education actively pursuing equity agendas under such programs as the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program? Using interview data from 53 STEM women faculty working at a university that received a 5-year NSF ADVANCE IT award, we examine the range of views held among women scientists about the extent to which opportunity and success are a function of meritocratic versus nonmeritocratic processes. Findings show that almost a third of participants held the view that opportunities and advancement are primarily a function of meritocratic processes. We discuss implications of these findings for broader institutional efforts to reduce inequities in academic STEM.

Bryan, Amée, Stacey Pope, and Alexandra J. Rankin-Wright. 2021. “On the Periphery: Examining Women’s Exclusion From Core Leadership Roles in the ‘Extremely Gendered’ Organization of Men’s Club Football in England.” Gender & Society 35 (6): 940–970.
In this article, we frame men’s club football as an “extremely gendered” organization to explain the underrepresentation of women leaders within the industry. By analyzing women’s leadership work over a 30-year period, we find that women’s inclusion has been confined to a limited number of occupational areas. These areas are removed, in terms of influence and proximity, from the male players and the playing of football. These findings reveal a gendered substructure within club football that maintains masculine dominance in core football leadership roles and relegates women to a position of peripheral inclusion in leadership roles. Through a discourse analysis of gender pay gap reports, we show that men’s football clubs legitimize women’s peripheral inclusion by naturalizing male dominance at the organizational core. These findings are significant because they demonstrate that men’s football clubs, as masculinity-conferring organizations, have excluded women from core roles to maintain their masculine character while superficially accepting women into roles that do not challenge the association of football with hegemonic masculinity. Therefore, organizational change may be possible only if women are granted greater access to core organizational roles. Here, we offer a new theoretical framework for “extremely gendered” organizations that can be applied to other sporting and male-dominated contexts to analyze women’s access to core leadership roles.

Chung, Heejung, Holly Birkett, Sarah Forbes, and Hyojin Seo. 2021. “Covid-19, Flexible Working, and Implications for Gender Equality in the United Kingdom.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 218-232.
We examine the role flexible working has for gender equality during the pandemic, focusing on arrangements that give workers control over when and where they work. We use a survey of dual-earning working parents in the United Kingdom during the peak of the first lockdown, namely, between mid-May and mid-June 2020. Results show that in most households in our survey, mothers were mainly responsible for housework and child care tasks both before and during the lockdown period, although this proportion has slightly declined during the pandemic. In households where fathers worked from home during the pandemic, respondents were less likely to say that mothers were the ones solely or mostly responsible for housework and child care. Fathers who worked from home were more likely to say that they were doing more housework and child care during the lockdown period than they were before. Finally, we explore what we expect to happen in the postpandemic times in relation to flexible working and gender equality. The large expansion of flexible working we expect to happen may help reduce some of the gender inequalities that have exacerbated during the pandemic, but only if we reflect on and change our existing work cultures and gender norms.

Collins, Caitlyn, Leah Ruppanner, Liana Christin Landivar, and William J. Scarborough. 2021. “The Gendered Consequences of a Weak Infrastructure of Care: School Reopening Plans and Parents’ Employment During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 180-193.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended in-person public education across the United States, a critical infrastructure of care that parents—especially mothers—depend on to work. To understand the nature and magnitude of school closures across states, we collected detailed primary data—the Elementary School Operating Status database (ESOS)—to measure the percentage of school districts offering in-person, remote, and hybrid instruction models for elementary schools by state in September 2020. We link these data to the Current Population Survey to evaluate the association between school reopening and parents’ labor force participation rates, comparing 2020 labor force participation rates to those observed prepandemic in 2019. We find that, across states, the maternal labor force participation rate fell to a greater extent than that of fathers. In 2019, mothers’ rate of labor force participation was about 18 percentage points lower than fathers’. By 2020, this gap grew by 5 percentage points in states where schools offered primarily remote instruction. We show that schools are a vital source of care for young children, and that without in-person instruction, mothers have been sidelined from the labor force. The longer these conditions remain in place, the more difficult it may be for mothers to fully recover from prolonged spells of nonemployment, resulting in reduced occupational opportunities and lifetime earnings.

Crowley, Jocelyn Elise. 2021. “Sexual Harassment in Display Work: The Case of the Modeling Industry.” Gender & Society 35 (5): 719-745.
This feminist analysis focuses on sexual harassment within a specific category of jobs known as display work, where primarily women’s bodies are commodified and sold to consumers, and often through the conduits of powerful male industry leaders. Using qualitative content analysis methods to analyze 88 subjective, first-person narratives of harassment from 70 models working within the fashion business, I describe how the commodification of bodies interacts with the particular features of the modeling industry—the premium placed on youth, ambiguous industry demands, and the presence of kingmakers—to produce an environment in which opportunities for sexual harassment can proliferate. All these factors impose extreme worker vulnerability costs on predominantly women and ultimately contribute to maintaining gender-based, hierarchical power differentials between men wielding authority within the industry and these models over time.

Dunatchik, Allison, Kathleen Gerson, Jennifer Glass, Jerry A. Jacobs, and Haley Stritzel. 2021. “Gender, Parenting, and the Rise of Remote Work During the Pandemic: Implications for Domestic Inequality in the United States.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 194-205.
We examine how the shift to remote work altered responsibilities for domestic labor among partnered couples and single parents. The study draws on data from a nationally representative survey of 2,200 US adults, including 478 partnered parents and 151 single parents, in April 2020. The closing of schools and child care centers significantly increased demands on working parents in the United States, and in many circumstances reinforced an unequal domestic division of labor.

Flores, Glenda M., and Maricela Bañuelos. 2021. “Gendered Deference: Perceptions of Authority and Competence among Latina/o Physicians in Medical Institutions.” Gender & Society 35 (1): 110-135.
Prior studies note that gender- and race-based discrimination routinely inhibit women’s advancement in medical fields. Yet few studies have examined how gendered displays of deference and demeanor are interpreted by college-educated and professional Latinas/os who are making inroads into prestigious and masculinized nontraditional fields such as medicine. In this article, we elucidate how gender shapes perceptions of authority and competence among the same pan-ethnic group, and we use deference and demeanor as an analytical tool to examine these processes. Our analysis underscores three main points of difference: (1) gendered cultural taxation; (2) microaggressions from women nurses and staff and; (3) the questioning of authority and competence to elucidate how gendered racism manifests for Latina/o doctors. Taking demonstrations of gendered deference and demeanors are vital to transforming medical schools and creating more inclusive spaces for all physicians and patients. Conclusions are based on experiences reported in interviews with 48 Latina/o physicians and observation in their places of work in Southern California.

Fuller, Sylvia, and Yue Qian. 2021. “Covid-19 and the Gender Gap in Employment Among Parents of Young Children in Canada.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 206-217.
Economic and social disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic have important implications for gender and class inequality. Drawing on Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey, we document trends in gender gaps in employment and work hours over the pandemic (February–October 2020). Our findings highlight the importance of care provisions for gender equity, with gaps larger among parents than people without children, and most pronounced when care and employment were more difficult to reconcile. When employment barriers eased, so did the gender–employment gap. The pandemic could not undo longer-standing cultural and structural shifts motivating contemporary mothers’ employment. The pandemic also exacerbated educational inequalities among women, highlighting the importance of assessing gendered impacts through an intersectional lens.

Laster Pirtle, Whitney N., and Tashelle Wright. 2021. “Structural Gendered Racism Revealed in Pandemic Times: Intersectional Approaches to Understanding Race and Gender Health Inequities in COVID-19.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 168-179.
The pandemic reveals; the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the historically rooted inequities of our society to the forefront. We argue that an intersectional analysis is needed to further help peel back the veil that the pandemic has begun to reveal. We identify structural gendered racism—the totality of interconnectedness between structural racism and structural sexism in shaping race and gender inequities—as a root cause of health problems among Black women and other women of color, which has been amplified during the pandemic. We show that women of color occupy disadvantaged positions within households, occupations, and health care institutions, and therefore face heightened risk for COVID-19 and lowered resources for mitigating the impact of the deadly virus. Intersectional analyses and solutions must be centered to also reveal, we hope, a new way forward.

Laube, Heather. 2021. “Outsiders Within Transforming the Academy: The Unique Positionality of Feminist Sociologists.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 476-500.
Several initiatives recognize the importance of transforming institutions, not just changing individuals, to diversify STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. Universities and colleges are distinctive gendered work organizations because workers (faculty) are highly educated and have authority in hiring, evaluation, and policy (shared governance). This article explores whether feminist sociologists are particularly well suited to guide institutional change to diversify the academy. Drawing on data from in-depth interviews with 24 feminist academic sociologists at the rank of associate or full professor, I analyze how their feminist and sociological identities intersect with institutional locations to create opportunities to transform the academy. Outsiders within, feminist sociologists revise and use the master’s tools to produce knowledge that improves recognition of, and ability to reduce, structural inequalities. Proficiency with these tools confers insider legitimacy and access to a “seat at the table” where disciplinary expertise and political commitments contribute to institutional change. Inevitably, these professors confront resistance, and in response develop strategies to advance their goals. Insights from feminist sociologists suggest that to transform universities to reflect the diversity of institutions and lived reality of contemporary faculty, it may be more useful to identify a set of commitments and principles that inform policies and practices, rather than specifying actions to support culture change.

Lee, Jennifer J., and Janice M. Mccabe. 2021. “Who Speaks and Who Listens: Revisiting the Chilly Climate in College Classrooms.” Gender & Society 35 (1): 32-60.
Almost 40 years ago, scholars identified a “chilly climate” for women in college classrooms. To examine whether contemporary college classrooms remain “chilly,” we conducted quantitative and qualitative observations in nine classrooms across multiple disciplines at one elite institution. Based on these 95 hours of observation, we discuss three gendered classroom participation patterns. First, on average, men students occupy classroom sonic space 1.6 times as often as women. Men also speak out without raising hands, interrupt, and engage in prolonged conversations during class more than women students. Second, style and tone also differ. Men’s language is assertive, whereas women’s is hesitant and apologetic. Third, professors’ interventions and different structures of classrooms can alter existing gender status hierarchies. Extending Ridgeway’s gender system framework to college classrooms, we discuss how these gendered classroom participation patterns perpetuate gender status hierarchies. We thus argue that the chilly climate is an underexplored mechanism for the stalled gender revolution.

Lockhart, Jeffrey W. 2021. “Paradigms of Sex Research and Women in Stem.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 449-475.
Scientists’ identities and social locations influence their work, but the content of scientific work can also influence scientists. Theory from feminist science studies, autoethnographic accounts, interviews, and experiments indicate that the substance of scientific research can have profound effects on how scientists are treated by colleagues and their sense of belonging in science. I bring together these disparate literatures under the framework of professional cultures. Drawing on the Survey of Earned Doctorates and the Web of Science, I use computational social science tools to argue that the way scientists write about sex in their research influences the future gender ratio of PhDs awarded across 53 subfields of the life sciences over a span of 47 years. Specifically, I show that a critical paradigm of “feminist biology” that seeks to de-essentialize sex and gender corresponds to increases in women’s graduation rates, whereas “sex difference” research—sometimes called “neurosexism” because of its emphasis on essential, categorical differences—corresponds to decreases in women’s graduation rates in most fields.

Mcquillan, Julia, and Nestor Hernandez. 2021. “Real-Life Conundrums in the Struggle for Institutional Transformation.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 300-329.
Intersecting systems of inequality (i.e., gender and race/ethnicity) are remarkably resistant to change. Many universities, however, seek National Science Foundation Institutional Transformation awards to change processes, procedures, and cultures to make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments more inclusive. In this article we describe a case study with observations for eight years of before (2000–2007), five during (2008–2013), and seven after (2014–2020) intensive efforts to increase women through reducing barriers and increasing access to women. Finally, we reflect on flawed assumptions built into the proposal, the slow and uneven change in the proportion of women over time, the strengths and weaknesses of numeric assessments, and the value of a longer view for seeing how seeds planted with promising practices initiated during the award may end with the funding but can reemerge and bear fruit when faculty who engage in equity work are in positions of authority later in their careers.

Misra, Joya, Alexandra Kuvaeva, Kerryann O’meara, Dawn Kiyoe Culpepper, and Audrey Jaeger. 2021. “Gendered and Racialized Perceptions of Faculty Workloads.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 358-394.
Faculty workload inequities have important consequences for faculty diversity and inclusion. On average, women faculty spend more time engaging in service, teaching, and mentoring, while men, on average, spend more time on research, with women of color facing particularly high workload burdens. We explore how faculty members perceive workload in their departments, identifying mechanisms that can help shape their perceptions of greater equity and fairness. White women perceive that their departments have less equitable workloads and are less committed to workload equity than white men. Women of color perceive that their departments are less likely to credit their important work through departmental rewards systems than white men. Workload transparency and clarity, and consistent approaches to assigning classes, advising, and service, can reduce women’s perceptions of inequitable and unfair workloads. Our research suggests that departments can identify and put in place a number of key practices around workload that will improve gendered and racialized perceptions of workload.

Nelson, Laura K., and Kathrin Zippel. 2021. “From Theory to Practice and Back: How the Concept of Implicit Bias was Implemented in Academe, and What this Means for Gender Theories of Organizational Change.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 330-357.
Implicit bias is one of the most successful cases in recent memory of an academic concept being translated into practice. Its use in the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program—which seeks to promote gender equality in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers through institutional transformation—has raised fundamental questions about organizational change. How do advocates translate theories into practice? What makes some concepts more tractable than others? What happens to theories through this translation process? We explore these questions using the ADVANCE program as a case study. Using an inductive, theory-building approach and combination of computational and qualitative methods, we investigate how the concept of implicit bias was translated into practice through the ADVANCE program and identify five key features that made implicit bias useful as a change framework in the academic STEM setting. We find that the concept of implicit bias works programmatically because it is (1) demonstrable, (2) relatable, (3) versatile, (4) actionable, and (5) impartial. While enabling the concept’s diffusion, these characteristics also limit its scope. We reflect on implications for gender theories of organizational change and for practitioners.

Rao, Aliya Hamid. 2021. “Gendered Interpretations of Job Loss and Subsequent Professional Pathways.” Gender & Society 35 (6): 884–909.
While we know that career interruptions shape men’s and women’s professional trajectories, we know less about how job loss may matter for this process. Drawing on interviews with unemployed, college-educated men and women in professional occupations, I show that while both men and women interpret their job loss as due to impersonal “business” decisions, women additionally attribute their job loss as arising from employers’ “personal” decisions. Men’s job loss shapes their subsequent preferred professional pathways, but never in a way that diminishes the importance of their participation in the labor force. For some women in this study, job loss becomes a moment to reflect on their professional pathways, often pulling them back from paid work. This study identifies job loss as an event that, on top of gendered workplace experiences and caregiving obligations, may curtail some women’s participation in paid work.

Ruppanner, Leah, Caitlyn Collins, Liana Christin Landivar, and William J. Scarborough. 2021. “How Do Gender Norms and Childcare Costs Affect Maternal Employment Across US States?” Gender & Society 35 (6): 910–939.
In this article, we investigate how state-to-state differences in U.S. childcare costs and gender norms are associated with maternal employment. Although an abundance of research has examined factors that influence mothers’ employment, few studies explore the interrelationship between maternal employment and culture, policy, and individual resources across U.S. states. Using a representative sample of women in the 2017 American Community Survey along with state-level measures of childcare costs and gender norms, we examine the relationship between these state conditions and mothers’ probability of employment. We pay careful attention to differences in mothers’ level of education. Our results suggest that expensive childcare is associated with lower maternal employment, particularly for those with less education. For the college educated, expensive childcare is negatively associated with maternal employment in states with traditional gender norms that uphold mothers as primary caregivers. Among mothers with lower levels of education, gender norms have a limited association with employment. These findings suggest that highly educated mothers mobilize resources to remain in the labor force when paid work is supported by local gender norms. For less-educated mothers, expensive childcare predicts lower employment regardless of gender norms, indicating that structural constraints outweigh normative expectations among those with fewer resources.

Sargent, Amanda C., Jill E. Yavorsky, and Rosalyn G. Sandoval. 2021. “Organizational Logic in Coworking Spaces: Inequality Regimes in the New Economy.” Gender & Society 35 (1): 5-31.
Globalization, technological advances, and changing employment structures have facilitated greater flexibility in how and where many Americans do their paid work. In response, a new work arrangement, coworking, has emerged in the United States. Coworking organizations bring together professionals from different companies to share a common workspace and build community. Despite the prevalence and potential benefits of coworking, little systematic research about coworking contexts exists, let alone research focused on gender inequality therein. Using 78 interviews and more than 700 hours of observation across nine coworking spaces, we examine the organizational logics that shape gender dynamics, as well as intersecting racial and class dynamics, in coworking spaces. Building on Acker’s inequality regimes framework, we uncover organizational logic that either reduces or reproduces inequality for diverse groups of women in coworking contexts. We conclude by discussing important theoretical and empirical implications of these findings.

Thébaud, Sarah, and Catherine J. Taylor. 2021. “The Specter of Motherhood: Culture and the Production of Gendered Career Aspirations in Science and Engineering.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 395-421.
Why are young women less likely than young men to persist in academic science and engineering? Drawing on 57 in-depth interviews with PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the United States, we describe how, in academic science and engineering, motherhood is constructed in opposition to professional legitimacy, and as a subject of fear, repudiation, and public controversy. We call this the “specter of motherhood.” This specter disadvantages young women and amplifies anticipatory concerns about combining an academic career with motherhood. By specifying (1) the content of cultural discourses about motherhood in academic workplaces and (2) the processes by which these ideas circulate, produce disadvantage, and inform young, childless scientists and engineers’ career plans, our findings offer novel insight into mechanisms contributing to inequality in academic careers.

Torre, Margarita, and Jerry A. Jacobs. 2021. “The Gender Mobility Paradox: Gender Segregation and Women’s Mobility Across Gender-Type Boundaries, 1970-2018.” Gender & Society 35 (6): 853-883.
In this article, we examine trends in women’s mobility among male-dominated, gender-neutral, and female-dominated occupations. Earlier research, largely employing data from the 1970s and early 1980s, showed that along with significant net movement by women into male-dominated fields, there was also substantial attrition from male-dominated occupations. Here, we build on previous research by examining how “gender-type” mobility rates have changed in recent decades. The findings indicate that while still quite high, levels of women’s occupational mobility among female, gender-neutral, and male occupations have decreased considerably over time. We suggest that this is the result of increasing differentiation among women. In particular, many women, especially those in high-status occupations, plan to pursue employment in a male-dominated field, succeed in gaining entry, and tend to remain in these fields more often than their counterparts in previous decades. We interpret these findings as evidence that gender segregation is maintained by an enduring but imperfect system of social control that constrains women’s choices before, during, and after entry into the labor market. The evidence presented here underscores the importance of studying gender-type mobility as a distinct dimension of labor market inequality.

Frenkel, Michal, and Varda Wasserman. 2020. “With God on their Side: Gender-Religiosity Intersectionality and Women’s Workforce Integration.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 818-843.
On the basis of a case study of the integration of Haredi Jewish women into the Israeli high-tech industry, we explore how gender–religiosity intersectionality affects ultra-conservative women’s participation in the labor market and their ability to negotiate with employers for corporate work–family practices that address their idiosyncratic requirements. We highlight the importance of pious women’s affiliation to their highly organized religious communities while taking a process-centered approach to intersectionality and focusing on the matrix of domination formed by the Israeli state, employers, and the organized ultra-orthodox community. We dub this set of actors “the unholy-trinity” and argue that it constructs a specific, religion-centric inequality regime that restrains women’s job and earning opportunities. At the same time, the “unholy trinity” also empowers women in their struggle to create a working environment that is receptive to their religiosity and what that commitment demands of them.

Hirsh, C. Elizabeth, Christina Treleaven, and Sylvia Fuller. 2020. “Caregivers, Gender, and the Law: An Analysis of Family Responsibility Discrimination Case Outcomes.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 760-789.
As workers struggle to combine work and family responsibilities, discrimination against workers based on their status as caregivers is on the rise. Although both women and men feel the pinch, caregiver discrimination is particularly damaging for women, because care is intricately tied to gendered norms and expectations. In this article, we analyze caregiver discrimination cases resolved by Canadian Human Rights Tribunals from 1985 through 2016, to explore how work and caregiving clash. We identify issues involved in disputes and the ways gendered expectations about work–life facilitation inform disputes and outcomes. We find that although women are more likely to bring claims and obtain favorable outcomes, the legal interpretation of claims is highly gendered. Women bring claims involving both their presumed status as caregivers and the practical challenges of seeking accommodations for care, whereas men’s claims are largely accommodation based. In adjudicating cases, Tribunals are more likely to see women than men as lacking credibility when making their claims, questioning their competence and legitimacy. In contrast, men struggle to demonstrate the legal basis of work–family interference, failing to convey how seriously work interferes with family responsibilities.

Hoang, Kimberly Kay. 2020. “Engendering Global Capital: How Homoerotic Triangles Facilitate Foreign Investments into Risky Markets.” Gender & Society 34 (4): 547-572.
Engaging with the work of C. Wright Mills and Eve Sedgwick, in this article I theorize how homoerotic relations facilitate the flow of global capital into risky market economies. Drawing on interview data with more than 60 financial professionals managing foreign investments in Vietnam, I examine the co-constitution of gender and global capital by identifying three categories of deal brokers. System maintainers are men and women who accept that women’s bodies are necessary for male homosocial bonding between political and economic elites. System transformers are men and women who disrupt the status quo and develop alternative ways of deal brokering outside of erotic spaces. System defectors are those break the triangle altogether and work to create new markets.

Hodges, Leslie. 2020. “Do Female Occupations Pay Less but Offer More Benefits?” Gender & Society 34 (3): 381-412.
Workers in predominantly female occupations have, on average, lower wages compared to workers in predominantly male occupations. Compensating differentials theory suggests that these wage differences occur because women select into occupations with lower pay but more fringe benefits. Alternatively, devaluation theory suggests that these wage differences occur because work performed by women is not valued as highly as work performed by men. One theory assumes that workers choose between wages and benefits. The other assumes that workers face constraints that restrict their wages and benefits. To examine whether female occupations pay less but offer more benefits, I used individual-level data from the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey and occupation-level data from the American Community Survey and from the Occupational Information Network. Contrary to compensating differentials theory, results from multivariate regression analysis provide little evidence that benefits explain wage differences between male and female occupations. Instead, consistent with devaluation theory, workers in female occupations are less likely to be offered employer health insurance coverage and are less likely to have retirement plans compared with workers in male occupations.

Scarborough, William J., and Ray Sin. 2020. “Gendered Places: The Dimensions of Local Gender Norms across the United States.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 705-735.
In this study, we explore the dimensions of local gender norms across U.S. commuting zones. Applying hierarchical cluster analysis with four established indicators of gender norms, we find that these local cultural environments are best conceptualized with a multilevel framework. Commuting zones can be differentiated between those that are egalitarian and those that are traditional. Within these general categories, however, exist more complex dimensions. Gender-traditional areas may be distinguished between traditional-breadwinning and traditional-essentialist, while egalitarian areas are separated into those that are liberal-egalitarian and egalitarian-essentialist. Examining the factors sustaining this spatial variation, we test the role of compositional and contextual effects. We find limited support for compositional effects because commuting zone demographic makeup explains little variation in gender norm indicators. Instead, we find evidence that local gender norms are sustained through contextual effects where the experience of living in a particular environment shapes residents’ attitudes and behaviors. Contextual effects are exceptionally strong in areas with traditional gender norms, where residents who would otherwise hold gender-egalitarian perspectives (e.g., the highly educated) have more traditional outlooks than those who share the same characteristics but reside in places with egalitarian gender norms.

Damaske, Sarah. 2019. “Job Loss and Attempts to Return to Work: Complicating Inequalities across Gender and Class.” Gender & Society 34 (1): 7-30.
Drawing on data from 100 qualitative interviews with the recently unemployed, this study examines how participants made decisions about attempting to return to work and identifies how class and gender shape these decisions. Middle-class men were most likely to take time to attempt to return to work, middle-class women were most likely to begin a deliberate job search, working-class men were most likely to report an urgent search, and working-class women were most likely to have diverted searches. Financial resources, gendered labor force attachments, and family responsibilities shaped decision making. Ultimately, those in the middle-class appear doubly advantaged—both in their financial capabilities and in their ability to respond to the crisis with greater gender flexibility.

Miller, Candace, and Josipa Roksa. 2019. “Balancing Research and Service in Academia: Gender, Race, and Laboratory Tasks.” Gender & Society 34 (1): 131-152.
Our study highlights specific ways in which race and gender create inequality in the workplace. Using in-depth interviews with 67 biology PhD students, we show how engagement with research and service varies by both gender and race. By considering the intersection between gender and race, we find not only that women biology graduate students do more service than men, but also that racial and ethnic minority men do more service than white men. White men benefit from a combination of racial and gender privilege, which places them in the most advantaged position with respect to protected research time and opportunities to build collaborations and networks beyond their labs. Racial/ethnic minority women emerge as uniquely disadvantaged in terms of their experiences relative to other groups. These findings illuminate how gendered organizations are also racialized, producing distinct experiences for women and men from different racial groups, and thus contribute to theorizing the intersectional nature of inequality in the workplace.

Pape, Madeleine. 2019. “Gender Segregation and Trajectories of Organizational Change: The Underrepresentation of Women in Sports Leadership.” Gender & Society 34 (1): 81-105.
This article offers an account of organizational change to explain why women leaders are underrepresented compared to women athletes in many sports organizations. I distinguish between accommodation and transformation as forms of change: the former includes women without challenging binary constructions of gender, the latter transforms an organization’s gendered logic. Through a case study of the International Olympic Committee from 1967-1995, I trace how the organization came to define gender equity primarily in terms of accommodating women’s segregated athletic participation. Key to this was the construction of women’s bodies as athletically able but inferior to men, an arrangement formalized in codified rules and procedures and legitimized by external stakeholders. Defined in these terms, gender equity did little to transform the organization’s binary and hierarchically gendered logic, which continued to shape the informal norms and procedures associated with the organization’s allegedly gender-neutral and meritocratic yet male-dominated leadership. I argue that the exclusion of women from ostensibly gender-integrated leadership positions allows organizations to avoid revealing gender similarity between men and women. This maintains a logic underpinned by notions of binary gender difference and masculine superiority.

Springer, Emily. 2019. “Bureaucratic Tools in (Gendered) Organizations: Performance Metrics and Gender Advisors in International Development.” Gender & Society 34 (1): 56-80.
This article contributes to a growing conversation about the role of numbers in promoting gendered agendas in potentially contradictory ways. Drawing from interviews with gender advisors—the professionals tasked with mainstreaming gender in development projects—in an East African country, I begin from the paradox that gender advisors articulate a strong preference for qualitative data to best capture the lives of the women they aim to assist while voicing a need for quantitative metrics. I demonstrate that (women) gender advisors come to imagine metrics as expeditious bureaucratic tools able to inspire cooperation from otherwise reluctant (men) coworkers. I argue that development organizations are gendered in ways—acutely seen in how advisors struggle, are sidelined, and attempt to advance their goals with numbers—that lead to the utility of valuing quantitative metrics over qualitative ones. I establish two theoretical contributions: (1) Gendered organizations theory is essential to understanding the adoption and globalization of performance metrics, and (2) in an age of evidence-based decision making, the utility of quantified data to garner resources is heightened, rewarding those who adopt quantified knowledge production. I coin the term “the paradox of quantified utility” to describe how these material advantages encourage even skeptics to value quantitative metrics.

Wynn, Alison T. 2019. “Pathways Toward Change: Ideologies and Gender Equality in a Silicon Valley Technology Company.” Gender & Society 34 (1): 106-130.
Companies have devoted significant resources to diversity programs, yet such programs are often largely ineffective. Cultivating an organizational commitment to diversity is critical, but scholars lack a clear understanding of how top executives conceptualize change. In this article, I analyze data from a year-long case study of a Silicon Valley technology company implementing a gender equality initiative. The data include 50 in-depth interviews and observation of 80 executive meetings. I pay special attention to longitudinal interviews with 19 high-level executives and explore how their ideologies about inequality affected their change efforts. I find that executives tend to favor individualistic and societal explanations of gender differences and inequality, and these explanations correspond with change efforts focused mainly on altering individuals or affecting external communities. Executives rarely engaged in attempts to change the organization structurally. Thus, the implementation of gender equality remains limited by top executives’ ideas and assumptions about the sources of inequality.

Brumley, Krista B. 2014. “The Gendered Ideal Worker Narrative: Professional Women’s and Men’s Work Experiences in the New Economy at a Mexican Company.” Gender & Society 28 (6): 799-823.
Workplaces have transformed over the past decades in response to global forces. This case study of a Mexican-owned multinational corporation compares employee perceptions of a new work culture required to confront these demands. Employees are expected to work long hours and to produce results, obtain the right skills and knowledge, and exhibit proactivity. Drawing on extensive qualitative data, this article theorizes what the expectations mean for women and men employees. The competitive culture reinforces inequality because expectations are grounded in the gendered “ideal worker” narrative. However, tensions ensue for the company that is partly characterized by paternalism yet requires a competitive work culture. The study uncovers a hybrid organizational logic with gendered assumptions undergirding a hidden inequality as professional women navigate the emergence of the glass ceiling in the global south.

Cha, Youngjoo. 2013. “Overwork and the Persistence of Gender Segregation in Occupations.” Gender & Society 27 (2): 158-184.
This study explores how overwork, defined as working long hours, may create and maintain gender segregation in occupations. Even when women work full-time they still have a greater share of familial obligations than men, and because of this greater share of familial obligations, women with children, as compared to women without children and men, are less likely to be able to meet the demand of long work hours. The authors showed, using longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, that, indeed, mothers are more likely than men or childless women to leave male-dominated occupations when they work 50 or more hours per week. Overwork combined with motherhood, leads to women’s attrition from male-dominated occupations, where overwork is expected and/or rewarded, and reinforcing gender segregation in occupations. 

Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Anne E. Lincoln, and Cassandra Tansey. 2012. “Gender Segregation in Elite Academic Science.” Gender & Society 26 (5): 693-717.
Occupational gender segregation is precipitated by gender segregation in academic study at the graduate level, where women are concentrated in social and life sciences and men are concentrated in the physical science. The goal of this study is to understand the barriers women encounter within biology and physics, and investigate their perceptions of why there are fewer women in physics compared to biology. This study uses data from the Perceptions of Women in Academic Science study, which includes survey data and in-depth interviews from 150 scientists, graduate students to full professors, in U.S graduate programs in physics and biology. Respondents invoked a combination of supply- and demand-side explanations (e.g., natural differences, discrimination, lack of role models for women, historical tradition of gender segregation, and family choice) to explain what keeps women from entering physics but these explanations were dependent on career stage (e.g., graduate student versus full professor).

Madden, Janice Fanning. 2012. “Performance-Support Bias And The Gender Pay Gap Among Stockbrokers.” Gender & Society 26 (3): 488-518.
Organizational processes that lead to gender inequality in pay among stockbrokers at two brokerage firms are examined and discussed. Women were found to earn far less than men, but data show that the gender gap in pay is the result of gender differences in sales. Furthermore, data showed that the gender difference in sales is due to women receiving less sales support and lower quality sales assignments. When women and men were given equivalent accounts, determined based on prior sales histories, there were no gender differences in sales. Among stockbrokers, at these firms, the gender gap in pay is due to performance-support bias where women are given inferior accounts.

Fox, Mary Frank, Gerhard Sonnert, and Irina Nikiforova. 2011. “Programs for Undergraduate Women in Science and Engineering.” Gender & Society 25 (5): 589-615.
Because the undergraduate degree is a pathway to careers in scientific fields, segregation of men and women in science and engineering during undergraduate education creates and sustains gender segregation at the occupational level. A mail survey was sent to directors of undergraduate-level programs for women in science and engineering in institutions of higher education to collect information and examine the substantial gender disparities in these degree programs. Findings suggest that a structural orientation, versus individual orientation, of the programs is key to addressing gender inequality within science and engineering.

England, Paula. 2010. “The Gender Revolution: Uneven and Stalled.” Gender & Society 24 (2): 149-166.
Despite dramatic changes that have taken place in the gender system with respect to the number of women receiving college degrees, women’s increased employment rates and women entering male-dominated occupations, other changes in the gender system have been slow and the author offers explanations for why this change has been uneven and, in some areas, has stalled. One possibility for the slow and uneven change is the devaluation of activities typically performed by women. A second explanation is the belief in individualism combined with gender essentialism (e.g., the idea that men and women have innately different interests and skills).

Wingfield, Adia Harvey. 2009. “Racializing the Glass Escalator: Reconsidering Men’s Experiences with Women’s Work.” Gender & Society 23 (1): 5-26.
The “glass escalator” refers to the advantage men may have in female dominated professions with respect to mobility and the author explores whether this phenomenon applies to all men or if race plays a role in the effect. Through semi-structured interviews with 17 Black men nurses the author explores whether the “glass escalator” effect applies to Black men in nursing. Findings reveal that Black men face “glass barriers”, such as supervisor bias and negative patient perceptions, suggesting that the “glass escalator” is a racialized concept.

Duffy, Mignon. 2007. “Doing the Dirty Work: Gender, Race, and Reproductive Labor in Historical Perspective.” Gender & Society 21 (3): 313-336.
The goal of this study was to show the changing context of paid reproductive labor, particularly nonnurturant reproductive labor (e.g., cleaning and cooking), and the importance of using intersectionality to examine paid reproductive labor. Analyses showed that while white women’s participation in nonnurturant tasks has decreased racial-ethnic women have become increasingly involved in these tasks and are more likely to be involved in cooking and cleaning in the private and public sphere. Race and intersectional analyses are important components for understanding job typing and devaluation of reproductive labor.

Acker, Joan. 2006. “Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class and Race in Organizations.” Gender & Society 20 (4): 441-464.
To understand the practices and processes within work organizations that create and perpetuate inequality the author introduces the idea of  “inequality regimes.” Inequality regimes perpetuate class, gender and racial inequalities in work organizations through workplace practices and processes such as recruitment and hiring, wage setting, supervisory practices and informal interactions at work. While the concept of inequality regimes aids our understanding of how inequalities are created and maintained in the workplace, the concept may also shed light on why some organizational change projects are successful but others are not.

Martin, Patricia Yancey. 2003 “‘Said and Done’ Versus ‘Saying and Doing’: Gendering Practices, Practicing Gender at Work.” Gender & Society 17 (3): 342-366.
Gendering processes in organizations are explored using interviews and participant observation from multinational corporations. Patricia Yancey Martin argues that gendering practices and practicing gender are integral parts of understanding gender inequality in work organizations. Furthermore, she argues that the “sayings and doings” of gender must be included in research and theory.