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The Business Case of Gender Equality in Swedish Forestry and Mining: Restricting or Enabling Organizational Change
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8227-8633
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4060-2327
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. Vol. 24, no 6, p. 628-642
Keywords [en]
gender equality, business case, forestry, mining, industry
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Gender and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-65043DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12187ISI: 000412750200005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-65043DiVA, id: diva2:1131366
Note

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

Available from: 2017-08-14 Created: 2017-08-14 Last updated: 2020-04-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Utmanad ordning? En studie av kön och jämställdhetsarbete i den svenska gruvindustrins arbetsorganisationer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Utmanad ordning? En studie av kön och jämställdhetsarbete i den svenska gruvindustrins arbetsorganisationer
2019 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Challenging the Gendered Order? A study of Gender and Gender Equality Work in the Swedish Mining Industry
Abstract [sv]

Män, maskulin symbolik och hårt manuellt arbete har länge präglat gruvan som arbetsplats. Samtidigt som detta fortfarande existerar, är idag allt fler gruvarbetare kvinnor, jämställdhetsarbete beskrivs som prioriterat samt att ny teknik och nya arbetssätt implementeras. Gruvans arbetsorganisationer uppvisar således en dubbelhet av stabilitet och förändring. Denna avhandling syftar till att undersöka hur kön och jämställdhetsarbete konstrueras och hur detta påverkar könsrelationer i den svenska gruvindustrins mansdominerade arbetsorganisationer. Med utgångspunkt i feministiska teorier förstås kön som ett görande och organisatoriska strukturer, processer och praktiker som konstituerande för sociala maktordningar i gruvans arbetsorganisationer. Avhandlingen bygger på fyra empiriska delstudier och baseras på ett femtontal arbetsplatsbesök samt tjugo intervjuer med gruvarbetare från arbetsplatser under jord och fyra intervjuer med personalchefer.

Resultatet visar att relationen mellan kön och gruvarbete inte är given, utan ständigt förhandlas. Det ökande antalet kvinnor i gruvarbete försvårar upprätthållandet av arbetet som för och av män, och ny teknik och nya arbetssätt har öppnat upp för en omförhandling gällande vem och vilka som kan utföra gruvarbete. Tidigare var arbetet i gruvan reserverat för män, idag har den könsgränsen förflyttats inom gruvarbetet och mellan olika arbetsplatser och arbetsuppgifter. I den informella interaktionen mellan gruvarbetarna används jargongen för att bevara den rådande ordningen av mäns givna plats och dominans, men också som en arena för utmaning och motstånd. Arbetet för ökad jämställdhet motiveras framförallt av uppfattningen att jämställdhet stärker gruvföretagens lönsamhet och konkurrenskraft, något som i sin tur påverkar jämställdhetsarbetets innehåll. Jämställdhetsarbetet förväntas även bidra till en förbättrad psykosocial arbetsmiljö i och med att kvinnor anses ha någonting positivt och annorlunda (än män) att bidra med på arbetsplatserna. Kvinnor tenderar att förstås som en betydande del av problemet (bristen på kvinnor) och dess lösning (fler kvinnor) när dessa organisationer arbetar med jämställdhetsfrågor. I förlängningen innebär detta att det främst är kvinnor som befinner sig utanför organisationerna som ska lösa problemet med ojämställdhet i organisationerna. Organisationernas jämställdhetsgöranden har inte enbart bäring på könskonstruktioner och könsrelationer utan också andra maktrelationer i organisationerna, framförallt klass och plats. När gruppen män aktualiseras som ett problem i relation till ojämställdhet så är det inte alla män, utan arbetarklassmän i det rurala som beskrivs som problemet. På så sätt förstås (o)jämställdhet inte primärt som en fråga om makt, strukturer och processer inom den egna organisationen utan placeras främst på grupper av människor i (och utanför) organisationerna.

Abstract [en]

Men, masculine symbolism and hard manual labour have long characterised the mine as a workplace. While this still holds true, today more and more miners are women, gender equality is described as a priority and new technologies and new work methods are being implemented. This means that mining organisations demonstrate a duality of both stability and change. This dissertation aims to investigate how gender and gender equality work are constructed and how this affects gender relations in the Swedish mining industry’s male-dominated organisations. With feminist theories as a starting point, gender is understood as a ‘doing’ and organisational structures, processes and practices as constituting social power structures. The dissertation is based on four empirical sub-studies, 15 workplace visits, 20 interviews with miners from underground workplaces and four interviews with HR managers.

The results show that the relationship between gender and mining is not self-evident, but rather is constantly being negotiated. The increasing number of women in mining makes it more difficult to sustain the idea of mining as by and for men, and new technology and new work methods have provided an opening for renegotiating who can carry out mining. Previously, working in mines was reserved for men; today the gender boundary has shifted within mining and among different workplaces and tasks. In the informal interaction among the miners, jargon serves to preserve the prevailing order of men’s traditional place and dominance, but also as an arena of challenge and resistance. Efforts to increase gender equality are mainly motivated by the perception that gender equality will strengthen the mining companies’ profitability and competitiveness, which in turn affects how efforts to achieve gender equality are formulated. Gender equality is also expected to help improve the psychosocial working environment because of the perception that women have something positive and different (than men) to contribute to the workplace. Women tend to be regarded as a significant part of the problem (the lack of women) and its solution (more women) when these organisations work on gender equality issues. This means that it is mainly women outside the organisations who are to solve the problem of gender inequality in the organisations. The organisations’ ‘gender equality doing’ not only has a bearing on gender and gender relations but also on other power relationships in the organisations, especially class and place. When the male group is brought to the fore as a problem in relation to gender inequality, it is not all men but working class men in rural areas, who are depicted as the problem. In this way, (in)equality is not seen primarily as a question of power, structures and processes within the organisation but is attributed primarily to groups of people in (and outside) the organisations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2019
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords
kön, jämställdhet, jämställdhetsarbete, organisation, industriorganisation, arbete, industriarbete, gruvarbete, teknik, intersektionalitet, humor, jargong
National Category
Work Sciences Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Human Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-75677 (URN)978-91-7790-427-4 (ISBN)978-91-7790-428-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-10-18, Hörsal A109, Luleå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-26 Created: 2019-08-23 Last updated: 2019-09-26Bibliographically approved
2. Business as Usual?: Doing gender equality in Swedish forestry work organisations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Business as Usual?: Doing gender equality in Swedish forestry work organisations
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
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:nbn:se:ltu:diva-78283 (URN)978-91-7790-567-7 (ISBN)978-91-7790-568-4 (ISBN)
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

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