Within and courageous. The feminine dimension, however, is

Within academic
literature, there is a myriad of research concerning gender, with a large
proportion being dedicated to gender inequality and gender based disadvantages.

Gender refers to the social and cultural distinctions between sexes, as opposed
to the biological ones (Broughton et al., 2017), and consists of the meanings ascribed
to male and female social categories within society. With guidance from
institutions such as education, music, sports and the mass media, gender seems
to be indoctrinated, as it comes with a scripted set of traits and behaviours
(Greco, 2013). At both the top and the bottom of the employment pyramid, women
continue to lag behind men in terms of pay and positions of power, despite the
narrowing of gaps in educational attainment (Williams et al., 2012). This
essay will, therefore, explore how these socially-constructed cultural values and
organisational mechanisms enable the hindrance of gender equality.

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The social construction of gender

First, an understanding of the different attributes afforded to masculinity
and femininity should be addressed. The masculine dimension of
gender encompasses traits that were previously associated with the male role of
the family breadwinner such as being independent, competitive, aggressive, and courageous.

The feminine dimension, however, is based upon traits of the traditional role
of a mother and caretaker, which involves personalities which are sympathetic,
affectionate, and gentle (McDermott,
2016).  People then incorporate these cultural values into their own psyches,
thus gender becomes a part of their identity. Through these formulated gender
identities, an individual’s self-concept is relative to the culturally masculine
and feminine meanings allotted to men and women, which ultimately influences
their behaviour (Wood and Eagly, 2012; 2015). As a primary cultural system for
framing social relations that implies both difference and hierarchy, gender
creates a distinct set of interests, and these interests are central to the
staying power of gender as a significant dimension of inequality (Ridgeway,

and femininity are not fixed once and for all but are constantly changing and
culturally and historically ‘dependent’ on the meanings we ascribe to them (Billing and Alvesson, 2000)

The gendered organisation

•Discuss how cultural
images of gender are widely disseminated through organizations.

 Job searches, job skills, hiring,
promotions and the everyday conduct of work life are fundamentally undertaken
through social-relational contexts whereby individuals automatically categorise
one another which stimulates gender stereotypes (Banaji and Hardin 1996; Ridgeway, 2006)

processes maintain gender segregation

•                Drawing on
Acker (1990), discuss how Gender segregation is partly created through
organizational practices

there is a great diversity of patterns and the extent of gender division, men
are predominantly in the highest positions of organisational power (Acker,
1990). Third wave feminism unravelled the cultural and political processes influencing
the demonstration of male hegemony in the economic sphere (Gottfried, 2013). Acker (2012) attributes ‘gendered substructures’
to explain the reasons for gender disparities in the workplace. These are the often-covert
processes in the ordinary lives of organisations in which gendered assumptions
about men and women, masculinity and femininity, are entrenched and replicated,
thus causing the perpetuation of gender inequality.

Acker’s (1990) theory
of gendered organisations identified five processes that maintain the gendering
of organization: the division of labour, cultural symbols, workplace
interactions, individual identities, and organizational logic. A gendered organisation is
when gender is present in the processes, practices, images and ideologies, and
distributions of power within an organisation (Acker, 1992).

The division of labour. The gendered substructure,
according to Acker (2012), is created in the organising processes where inequalities
are embedded into job design, wage levels, distribution of hierarchy, and
implicit and explicit rules for acceptable behaviour at the workplace. Managers
contribute to this by making conscious decisions that recreate these
inequalities (Cohn, 1987), for example, Shafritz et al. (2015) note that while it
is against the law for employers to advertise certain jobs to be gender/sex specific,
many still perceive women and men to be suited to different types of work. Which
….. argues is not valued in western world The gendered substructure is also
created in the organisations culture (Acker, 2012)

Cultural symbols: Gendering involves the conception of cultural
symbols, images, and forms of perception that simplify, justify or even oppose
gender divisions. Society is filled with organisations which are sites for this
symbolic/cultural production, such as advertising, language, fashion and
television being blatant examples, with metaphors of masculinity being defined throughout
them (Acker, 1990).  Kanter (1975) emphasises a
masculine ethic of rationality in images of managers, which therefore promotes
the attributes deemed appropriate for men such as being resilient, cognitive
superiority in problem-solving, the capacity to set emotions aside, and other
attributes afforded to the masculinity,  in other words, ‘think manager, think male’ (Schein et al., 1996). Conversely, the term ‘glass cliff’
has also been coined by theorists, which is when the suitability of male and
female managers varies depending on the organisation’s performance, such that
in times of poor performance people may ‘think female’ (Ryan et al., 2011).

Furthermore, todays organisations
are aggressive, competitive, mean and goal-oriented; they are seldom empathetic,
caring, or supportive. Organisational members actively produce these cultural
images in order to construct organisational cultures that enable competitive
success (Acker, 1990; Shafritz et al., 2015).

Workplace interactions.. interactions on the job

Acker (2012) adds that
a culture of denial and invisibility (with regards to inequality) assists with
the perpetuation of inequities. In addition to culture and the division of
labour, the interactions between individuals (of any sex) is another process
which contributes to the formation of gendered social structures. Interactions
on the job between those with varying hierarchical positions, formal or
informal, one-on-one or group settings often affirm inequality. This is because
such interactions may depreciate or exclude women, especially in male lead groups
EXAMPLES OF INTERACTIONS e.g. conversational analysis

Individual identities… gendered identities:

Gendered identities are
another element of the gender substructure within organisations, these are individual
gendered identities, which are both pre-existing, and constructed in the work
place (Acker, 1990). This involves creating the ‘correct’ gendered persona and
hiding traits/behaviours that would be deemed unacceptable (Shafritz et al.,
2015), drawing on the previously mentioned ‘think manager, think male’ phenomenon.

However, Pierce (1995) noted that even when women adopted masculinsed management
techniques it still posed a predicament, as they were then viewed as too
assertive despite being dubbed soft and ineffective when adopting a more
feminine manner. These identities are the result of the previously mentioned organisational


The last element Acker (1990) identified was organisational logic.  The gendered logic of organisation involves
the pervasive understanding that employment typically comes with particular
expectations for workers, such as the requirement to be there at an allocated
time, for an agreed period of time, with an individual’s undivided attention
(Acker, 2012). Seemingly, these rules are depicted as gender neutral, however,
they are implicitly based upon the image of a gender neutral, abstract employee
who has no further obligations outside the workplace (Acker, 2006). Men are
more likely to conform to this encumbered worker as they are seen as the ‘real
workers’, as traditionally women did the unpaid work (such as primary caregiver
and housework duties), which allowed men to be this ideal disembodied employee
(Acker, 1990; 2012) despite organizational logic depicting its neutrality.  

Therefore, the concept of ‘work’ can be deemed an implicitly gendered
context, as the gendered substructure within organisations maintains and
reproduces embedded beliefs regarding men and women, perpetuating and disseminating
the segregating cultural idea that the workplace is the domain of a man, whilst
the ideological domain of women is in the home. (Acker, 1990; 2012)

Beliefs as Difference and Inequality

•                Income and
status inequality also partly created through organizational processes


Holistically, all of
these elements within the gender substructure are components of continual
organisational processes, for instance, wage setting involves cultural assumptions
based on gender differences in capability levels, and the difference in value
of those capabilities (Acker, 2012). As mentioned women are greatly outnumbered
by men in positions of formal power and authority, however, this also extends
to high status and high income positions (Billing and Alvesson, 2000). Gender beliefs
create status inequality, due to men being seen as more agentic and competent
at the things that are valued more in society than women. Women are viewed
overall as less competent, but excel at feminine,