Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Women Experience Gender when Working with Men in a Female-Concentrated Occupation

Kerry E. Weinberg, School of Human and Organizational Development

This qualitative dissertation focuses on women’s experience of working with men in a female-concentrated occupation. Occupations tend to be strongly gender-typed (associated mainly with females or males) and this occupational segregation has advantaged men over women in terms of income, authority, and power. Crossing of gendered work boundaries occurs and with increasing frequency. Researchers have examined this boundary crossing, mainly from the perspective of females entering male occupations and to a lesser degree, males entering female occupations. This narrative inquiry investigated the extent and the ways in which women working with men, in a traditionally female occupation experience gender as an element of their workplace. The study context was sonography, an allied health occupation. I interviewed 14 female, diagnostic medical sonographers to explore their experiences working with male diagnostic medical sonographers. Major themes from the interviews indicated that women see gender as important in the workplace in complicated ways. Women see men as: (a) having different work values, (b) preferable as bosses, (c) complaining less than women, (d) less nurturing with patients, (e) not working as hard as women; but (f) creating a more desirable work environment. Overall, the study strengthens the findings of Williams’ (Williams, 1992) article entitled “The Glass Escalator” about the “hidden advantages” that men receive in female occupations. This study’s findings suggest less than positive perceptions about men as colleagues in our neoliberal age.

Keywords: gender, tokenism, occupational gender segregation, stereotypes

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