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Business as Usual?: Doing gender equality in Swedish forestry work organisations
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Humans and technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8227-8633
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The title of this thesis is Business as usual? Doing gender equality in Swedish forestry work organizations and while the latter part, the subtitle, is rather self-explanatory, the former part can be read in different ways. The aim of the thesis is to increase the understanding of the doing of gender equality in the male dominated work organizations of the Swedish forestry sector, and thereby contribute both theoretical and empirical understanding regarding how doing gender equality in the forestry sector relates both to notions of gender and notions of organizations. Forestry has traditionally been characterized by physically demanding, manual harvesting work, with practical and symbolic associations with men and certain forms of masculinity. The forestry sector still remains one of the most gender segregated labour forces in Sweden, all while gender equality has been addressed to some extent during the 2000s. The theoretical frame of reference of the present thesis is rooted in feminist organizational research and the doing gender framework. Based on a perspective of reality as socially constructed and by deploying a feminist participatory action research methodology, my analysis focuses on how complexities of meanings are ascribed to the actions and processes, that are framed as gender equality and I have qualitatively analysed empirical material, such as policy documents, interviews and written testimonies of sexual harassment, that explicate these aspects of doing gender equality in organizations. The thesis is built experiences from two different research- and development projects and consists of 5 articles and a synthetizing chapter.

The results highlight how doing gender equality relates to notions of gender as well as notions of organization. In both Article I, where policies were studied and in Article II, that builds on interviews, women are in general constructed as the “other”, as people who lack (forestry) skills and competences and who are in need of help or as contributors of social and emotional competence. Men and masculine norms are mainly absent from the doing of gender equality in this material, just as notions of the organization. But, deploying a feminist participatory action research methodology can bring forward other perspectives on gender equality, as shown in Articles IV and V, such as the articulations of men and masculinities. Further, this thesis shows that gender equality is in general understood by the organizations studied as a process that regards gender, predominantly women, rather than the organization. Put differently, gender equality work in the forestry sector does not to any significant extent, affect what is perceived as the core activities in these organizations. However, the overarching depoliticized and degendered business case framing that mainly evades accounting for the role of the organization when doing gender equality, is disrupted by the testimonies of #slutavverkat explored in Article III. Here, the political dimension of gender equality is highlighted by stories of men’s behaviours (reprehended but at the same time sanctioned) in organizations that come at the expense of women’s rights to a workplace free from condescending comments, harassment and sexual violence. While previous research has pointed to the importance of gender awareness, and gender aware leadership, in organizations that wish to succeed with their gender equality work, this thesis suggests that there is also a need for “gendered organization awareness” in order to understand and discuss not only how gender is done in organizations but also how everyday organizational life, such as notions of competence, is done and how that in turn relates to gender and power. This underlines the need for organizations to make room for conflicts and politics and to let the otherwise marginalized voices contribute to more nuanced interpretations of gender equality.

The title Business as usual? encompasses the starting points for the thesis work as well as the main findings. Read with an emphasis on business, the seemingly all-embracing business case rhetoric’s that encloses the official narratives of gender equality in the forestry sector are visualized, while emphasizing as usual denotes to the sectors resistance to do other than what it usually does. Read as the hole saying, business as usual, that title signals that gender equality work is done in ways that not interfere with forestry core activities, thus making gender equality work in the organizations side streamed or de-coupled. Yet, read with emphasis on the question mark, opens up for the subversive potential that nevertheless exists when more multifaceted ways of making sense of gender equality are articulated and as the findings suggests that there are ways to re-gender and re-politicize organizational gender equality work in the context of forestry work organizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2020.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords [en]
Feminist action research, Forestry, Gender, Gender equality, Organization, Male dominated industries
National Category
Social Sciences Other Social Sciences Gender Studies Work Sciences Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Gender and Technology; Industrial Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-78283ISBN: 978-91-7790-567-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7790-568-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-78283DiVA, id: diva2:1420996
Public defence
2020-06-05, A109, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-04-01 Created: 2020-04-01 Last updated: 2020-05-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Constituting gender and gender equality through policy: the political of gender mainstreaming in the Swedish forest industry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Constituting gender and gender equality through policy: the political of gender mainstreaming in the Swedish forest industry
2018 (English)In: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, ISSN 2040-7149, E-ISSN 2040-7157, Vol. 37, no 8, p. 763-779Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

In Sweden, gender mainstreaming policies have a long political history. As part of the national gender equality strategy of the Swedish forest industry, the ten largest forestry companies committed themselves to gender mainstream their policies. Limiting the impact of policies and the agency of change, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the varied and conflicting meanings and constitution of the concepts, the problem and, in extent, the organisational realities of gender mainstreaming.

Design/methodology/approach

In both, implementation and practice, gender mainstreaming posse challenges on various levels and by analysing these documents as practical texts from the WPR-approach. This paper explores constructions of gender and gender equality and their implications on the practice and the political of gender mainstreaming in a male-dominated primary industry.

Findings

The results show that the organisations themselves were not constituted as the subject of the policy but instead some of the individuals (women). The subject position of women represented in company policy was one of lacking skills and competences and in the need of help. Not only men and the masculine norms but organisational processes and structures were also generally invisible in the material. Power and conflict were mainly absent from the understanding of gender equality. Instead, consenting ideas of gender equality were the focus. Such conceptualisations of gender equality are beneficial for all risk concealing power structures and thereby limit the political space for change.

Originality/value

By highlighting the scale of policy and the significance of organisational contexts, the results indicate how gender and gender equality are constitutive through the governing technologies of neoliberal and market-oriented ideologies in policy – emphasising the further limiting of space for structural change and politicalization within the male-dominated organisations of Swedish forest industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018
Keywords
Governance, Politics, Policy, Forestry, Male-dominated organizations, Subjectification
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Industrial Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-71164 (URN)10.1108/EDI-10-2017-0208 (DOI)000449153800002 ()2-s2.0-85047499492 (Scopus ID)
Note

Validerad;2018;Nivå 2;2018-11-06 (johcin) 

Available from: 2018-10-10 Created: 2018-10-10 Last updated: 2020-04-01Bibliographically approved
2. The Business Case of Gender Equality in Swedish Forestry and Mining: Restricting or Enabling Organizational Change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Business Case of Gender Equality in Swedish Forestry and Mining: Restricting or Enabling Organizational Change
2017 (English)In: Gender, Work and Organization, ISSN 0968-6673, E-ISSN 1468-0432, Vol. 24, no 6, p. 628-642Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Forestry and mining constitutes an important part of Swedish basic industry. These industries are heavily male-dominated and are expressing an ambition to become more gender equal and less gender-segregated, arguing that this could strengthen their competitiveness in a number of areas. In this article we explore how company representatives construct gender equality as a business case and discuss how these constructions restrict and/or enable gender equality in these organizations. Departing from a social constructivist understanding of how language (re)produces gendered power relations in the workplace, the empirical basis of this paper consists of eight interviews with respondents who possess special insights into, and being of strategic importance to, gender equality issues in forestry and mining companies. In our analysis we found three dominant dimensions of the business case of gender equality Marketing (as) gender equality, Uncovering the male norm and Gender equality as a depoliticized value. We conclude that the business case framing facilitates for the companies to engage in issues of gender equality. However, issues concerning conflicting interests and power relations seem to be difficult to address within the business case discourse. This we argue affects and shapes the terms for gender equality in these organizations

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing, 2017
Keywords
gender equality, business case, forestry, mining, industry
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Gender and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-65043 (URN)10.1111/gwao.12187 (DOI)000412750200005 ()
Note

Validerad;2017;Nivå 2;2017-10-30 (andbra)

Available from: 2017-08-14 Created: 2017-08-14 Last updated: 2020-04-01Bibliographically approved
3. #Metoo in the Swedish forest sector: testimonies from harassed women on sexualised forms of male control
Open this publication in new window or tab >>#Metoo in the Swedish forest sector: testimonies from harassed women on sexualised forms of male control
2018 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, ISSN 0282-7581, E-ISSN 1651-1891, Vol. 33, no 5, p. 419-425Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study adds to the literature on the gendered culture of the forest sector by examining testimonies of sexual harassment in relation to the gendering of forestry-related competence and organisations and the consequences that the sexualisation of social relations in organisations has, mainly for women. The empirical base of the study comprised testimonies within the campaign #slutavverkat published on Instagram to highlight experiences of sexual harassment of women in the Swedish forest sector. Qualitative content analysis of the testimonies suggested that the situations described in the testimonies in #slutavverkat comprise controlling actions that diminish women's power in the forest sector. Sexualised forms of male control and harassment thus work to remind women that they are first and foremost a representation of women, rather than of forestry professions and knowledge. In that sense, sexualised forms of male control and harassment are part of, rather than deviating from, the overall gendering of forestry as a men-dominated sphere. The study adds to organisational understandings and policy developments on discrimination and harassment and suggests that researchers and policy-makers interested in reducing inequality in forestry need to pay more attention to issues of harassment and sexualisation of social relations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Industrial Design; Human Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-68930 (URN)10.1080/02827581.2018.1474248 (DOI)000433155900002 ()2-s2.0-85047144415 (Scopus ID)
Note

Validerad;2018;Nivå 2;2018-05-28 (svasva)

Available from: 2018-05-28 Created: 2018-05-28 Last updated: 2020-04-01Bibliographically approved
4. Who needs to be “more equal” and why?: Doing gender equality in male-dominated industries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Who needs to be “more equal” and why?: Doing gender equality in male-dominated industries
2020 (English)In: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, ISSN 2040-7149, E-ISSN 2040-7157Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose

This study aims to deepen the understanding of inequality regimes in male-dominated industries, specifically in Swedish forestry and mining, by exploring how conceptions of gender, class and place are articulated and intertwined when doing gender equality in these organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The article draws on empirical material from four research and development projects inspired by a feminist action research methodology.

Findings

This paper shows how gender equality works in these male-dominated organizations simultaneously constructing gender, class and place. When men are at the focal point of gender equality, our empirical findings suggest that blue-collar workers in rural areas are described as “being the problem” for gender inequality in these organizations. Addressing specific groups such as women or blue-collar workers in rural areas is not enough to challenge the inequality regimes that exist in these organizations, since a unilateral focus on certain groups leads to skewed problem formulations.

Originality/value

Research on gender equality work and its relation to intersectionality in male-dominated industries is limited, and by focusing on men and masculinities, this paper contributes to knowledge concerning gender equality in male-dominated industrial organizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2020
Keywords
Intersectionality, Feminist action research, Mining, Forestry, Organizations
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Industrial Design; Human Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-75675 (URN)10.1108/EDI-01-2019-0042 (DOI)000517339600001 ()2-s2.0-85081359406 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-08-23 Created: 2019-08-23 Last updated: 2020-04-01
5. Re-gendering corporate gender equality work: Conflicts in the micro processes of organisational change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Re-gendering corporate gender equality work: Conflicts in the micro processes of organisational change
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Social Sciences Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-78282 (URN)
Available from: 2020-04-01 Created: 2020-04-01 Last updated: 2020-04-01

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