By Lauren Alfrey and France Winddance Twine
How do women negotiate male-dominated workplaces of the tech industry? In the February 2017 issue of Gender & Society, we address this question by building upon foundational work on occupational inequality. Inspired by Joan Acker’s concept of inequality regimes, we offer the first qualitative study and intersectional analysis of women tech workers from a wide range of backgrounds. We show how race, class privilege and gender expression shapes the occupational experiences of “geek girls.”
In our interviews with 50 men and women employed in a variety of positions in the San Francisco tech industry, we discovered that the gender-fluid, LGBTQ, White and Asian female workers reported a greater sense of belonging among male co-workers when compared to heterosexual women. In contrast to the gender conventional women in our sample, they were perceived as “one of the guys.” However, the gender-fluid Black LGBTQ women we interviewed did not experience the same inclusion or degree of belonging. Neither did conventionally heterosexual White and Asian women, who, like the Black women, also described routine micro-aggressions and sexist interactions that undermined their ability to be seen as competent equals in their workplace.
We argue that this represents a racialized and gendered spectrum of belonging—the dynamic forms of inclusion and exclusion that women experience according to their race, sexuality, and gender presentation. In occupational cultures where masculinity and hetero-normativity are the norm, fluid gender expression provides some women with conditional acceptance. Continue reading
By Elroi J. Windsor
What is intersectionality, and what does it look like in real life?
Sociologist Zakiya Luna explored these questions as they relate to the national coalition, SisterSong. For this collective of reproductive justice advocates, intersectional praxis was more than putting diverse groups of people in rooms together for meetings and events. Luna’s research described activists working in coalitions where “constructing identities and alliances is an iterative, never-ending process.”The participants in this women of color collective had similar experiences based on belonging to marginalized race and gender groups. Yet they also experienced challenges in their work due to intragroup differences based on ethnicity, ability, and citizenship. For SisterSong, the practice of intersectionality in real life is “ongoing” and “multidimensional.” It’s not always easy, and even woke folks have learning to do.
In the last few weeks, I’ve asked students in my Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class questions about intersectional feminist praxis. We’ve been reading Black Girl Dangerous,by black queer writer Mia McKenzie, and thinking about how intersectional politics play out in everyday life. My students and I currently live in North Carolina, a state that has made national news this past year. Our time and place is ripe for some intersectional analysis and praxis. Continue reading
By Jamie Budnick
There are a lot of words used to describe women who hook up with other women. Even if they do not identify as lesbian or bisexual, the media might label them “straight girls kissing” and social scientists might study their “sexual fluidity.” A generation ago, they might have been called a LUG – that is, “lesbian until graduation.” What do all of these labels have in common? They usually refer to a narrow group of women: white, middle-class, and living on the progressive campuses of selective universities.
Image: Berkeley college campus
The New York Times acknowledged this stereotype of college as “a hive of same-sex experimentation” when it reported a puzzling research finding: in a national survey, women with the lowest levels of educational attainment reported the highest lifetime prevalence of same-gender sex. How could that be? If non-college attending women (or women working on associate’s or vocational degrees) also have a high prevalence of same-gender sexual behavior, then we need new research to understand their lives and sexual identities. Continue reading
By Emily Kane
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump and Melania Trump attends European School Of Economics Foundation Vision And Reality Awards on December 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for European School of Economics Foundation)
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Jill Filipovic addresses “Why Men Want to Marry Melanias and Raise Ivankas,” referring to the traditionally gendered division of responsibility Donald J. Trump celebrates for his wife but seems to reject for his daughter. Filipovic goes on to note public opinion data suggests men favor independence and strength in daughters more than wives, but sweetness and attractiveness in wives more than daughters. This is an important pattern to note, with clear implications for reproducing gender inequality. And it’s a pattern that shapes the way some fathers participate in gendering their daughters even in early childhood. In my book The Gender Trap: Parents and the Pitfalls of Raising Boys and Girls, I approach these patterns with explicit attention to the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality, and find that the way Donald Trump looks at things is more common among men privileged by race and class.
In my analysis of interviews with parents of preschoolers from a wide variety of backgrounds and social locations, I identify five distinct groups based on their parenting practices, one of which I call “Naturalizers.” These parents tend to view gender as rooted in nature, celebrate gender differences as positive, and reject seeing gender as a source of power. Though parents from all social backgrounds were represented in this group, a particular strand within it was expressed by upper-middle class white fathers with both sons and daughters. They encouraged a modest expansion of gendered expectations for their young sons, who they viewed as “hard-wired” for rough-and-tumble competitiveness but hoped to round out with just a small infusion of domestic skills and nurturing orientation. For their daughters, they viewed that nurturance and a maternal instinct as the hard-wired element, which they more actively hoped to round out with the skills to “choose” male-dominated careers if they wished to do so. This emphasis on choice, especially expressed by privileged fathers who often viewed it as unconstrained by structural power, is very much consistent with accepting traditionally gendered wives and more career-oriented daughters who still show that supposedly natural material instinct. As Filipovic quotes in her piece, Donald Trump praises his daughter as “a devoted mother and an exceptional entrepreneur.” Continue reading
By Landon Schnabel
Despite men holding most religious leadership positions, on any given Sunday there are typically more women than men in U.S. churches. Twenty seven percent of women but only 19 percent of men say they attend religious services at least once a week. Women also pray more frequently than men, with 66 percent of women and only 43 percent of men reporting that they pray daily. The gender gap in religion is so strong that U.S. religious congregations are getting creative in their attempts to attract more men, from changing décor and musical styles to hosting mixed martial arts fights in churches as depicted in the 2014 “Fight Church” documentary.
Are There Gender Differences among U.S. Elites?
Some scholars have argued that hormones make females more religious than males. They used a 17th century theological argument, Pascal’s Wager, to claim that being irreligious is risky. Then they said that because males have more testosterone, they are more likely to engage in risky behavior—such as violent crime and not going to church. But feminist scholars have consistently demonstrated that most gender differences are the result of social (i.e., gender), rather than biological (i.e., sex), factors, and that all women and all men are not the same. In this article, I use the case of U.S. elites to consider how gendered social experiences can make people more or less religious. On average, women are more religious than men, but are high-earning women (those who make more than $100,000 a year) more religious than high-earning men?
Among high earners, women are no more religious than men. High-earning men are just as likely as high-earning women to be religiously affiliated, to pray daily, to identify as a strong member of their religion, and to attend religious services weekly. This convergence occurs because the relationship between earnings and religiosity operates differently for women and men. High-earning women are consistently less religious than low-earning women, and high-earning men are consistently more religious than low-earning men. Continue reading