Hiding unequal treatment in organizations

In December, Gilda Seddighi started her Nordwit blog post with the following words:

“´We do not treat men and women differently in our organization’ is a strong discourse many proudly share with us, as we talk and discuss strategies for gender equality in the field work.”

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Indeed, this is an often told claim that hide the inequalities in organizations, as Gilda stated. But what is then hidden? How gender and gender based inequalities are inevitably inscribed in and through organizations, businesses and working life institutions, despite of public equality statements? Some answers are provided by Jatta Jännäri in her PhD thesis Mediated Construction of an Ideal Gendered Manager and Employee (2018) published at the University of Turku. In the second article of the thesis, Jännäri together with Seppo Poutanen and Anne Kovalainen analyse how women in leading positions have been represented in The Economist between 2006-2013. Here they distinguish four ways in which women-leaders were described and presented:  in relation to 1) their appearance, family ties and kinships; 2) the pioneering femininity as a competence; 3) representing care continuity in companies; and 4) the problems of their competences. Female leaders were understood as individual and flexible people, and simultaneously as stereotypically feminine. Old stereotypes apparently have impact on women’s chances to succeed in recruitment processes and on different and unequal treatment in organizations.

Päivi Korvajärvi

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