Conference Agenda

RN33_10a: Languages, Identities and Masculine Dominations
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Ana Vidu, University of Deusto
Location: BS.3.14
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Language And Gender In The Labour Market

Jasna Mikić

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences, Slovenia

First attempts to investigate the topic of gender and language date back to the 5th century but it was not until the second feminist wave in the 60s and 70s that the topic gained widespread recognition. Although the earliest studies have focused mainly on exploring differences between (what was then identified as) 'woman's language' and a deviation from the (male) language norm (Lakoff 1975, Spender 1980, Tannen 1990), the emergence of fundamental redefinitions of gender in the 90s has offered a new perspective in study of language in society. My analysis will be based on the understanding of language as an important dimension and a fundamental tool for reproduction of gender identities, power relations and inequalities in the labour market.

Many studies have shown that stereotypes are automatically activated (and difficult to discharge) in word processing. The language used in job descriptions and in job titles is associated with cognitive integration and identification of women and men as members of certain occupational groups. Female job titles could be associated with less competence, male job titles with more competence and the use of gender-fair language in occupational titles may trigger a greater gender-balance in perceptions of people's professional success (however there is also some counter evidence). The aim of this presentation is demonstrating ways in which sexism in language is not only a linguistic issue, but a broader socio-political phenomena, which affects the positions of women and men in the labour market.

Language and Masculine Domination

Milica Antić Gaber, Nina Perger

Universiry of Ljubljana, Slovenia

While in sociology social dimensions of language and its practices, that is, its bourdieusian character as a structuring structure and structured structure (Bourdieu 1991), is widely acknowledged (i.e. Mills 2008), such knowledge was – until recently – rarely put into practice, especially when it comes to masculine domination in language, which reflects in predominant, taken for granted use of male pronouns in generic form. In the paper, we focus on the recent successful attempt of institutionalising strategies aiming to overcome mentioned use of male pronouns in generic form (by officialising the use of female pronouns as generic) that were implemented at the level of higher education in Slovenia, more specifically, at the Faculty of arts in 2018, followed by the Faculty of Social Sciences and their internal bodies, the Senate (both University of Ljubljana). Taking into account the fact that such institutionalisation is not a product of ‘now’, but rather results from the whole history of practices and resistances that “chip away” (Ahmed 2016) masculine domination, the aim of the paper is to analyse the broader context and conditions on the background of which space and opportunities for such ‘consecration’ (Bourdieu 1988; 1991) were opened and successfully realized. In addition to giving a basic overview of similar practices abroad, the attention is also given to the backlashes that needed to be overcome and which were predominantly grounded in a conception of a) language as ‘asocial’, and b) institutional ‘consecration’ as ‘authoritarian’.

The Limitations of Identity Politics in The Women’s Movement in Turkey and Transversal Politics as an Alternative Approach

Pelin Dinçer

Hacettepe University, Turkey

The women’s movement in Turkey involves women who are diversely positioned in terms of their social locations, identifications and values, which intersect with the political cleavages that divide Turkish society as a whole. One of the main reasons for this fragmentation, I argue, is the extant identity politics within the movement. In this study, I discuss that seeing identities as unalterable and not transitional deepens the fragmentation within the movement and stigmatises women in different groups. The increased attack on gender, as well as on feminism, under the contemporary conservative regime in Turkey, however, indicates the need for establishing alliances with differently located women. Thus, this study explores activist women’s perceptions and their positions on identity issues, such as gender, religion and ethnicity, as well as their views of each other, through in-depth interviews I conducted with women activists and academics in Turkey in 2014–2015. I argue that understanding identities as fixed notions leads to disregarding intra-group differences, creates a false sense of homogeneity within groups and exacerbates activists’ tendency to stay in their small groups. In order to move away from the limitations of identity politics, I offer to adopt transversal politics in understanding differences among women, whereby activists can find a realm aside from the exclusionary structures of universalism and identity politics. Adopting transversal values could potentially help activists overcome the barriers to work across differences by increasing respect and understanding of their differences without becoming trapped by them.

Working for the Government as a Convenient Job for Women in the Russian Patriarchate

Valeriya Utkina

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation

It is believed that public administration is not perceived as a gender-specific profession in modern Russia, but there are requirements that limits women compared to men (for example, glass ceiling).However, in 2017 National Action Strategy in the interests of women in the years 2017-2022 has been prepared by Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation under the instruction of Russian President and the Government, where it is proclaimed to develop women participation in public administration. The strategy should be a fundamental document defining the priority directions of the state policy for women in the medium term. Our study was based on a set of 32 semi-structured interviews with young women who have an experience of working in the civil service. The results were guided by the qualitative analysis of the text in order to identify the main topics crucial for this group of women due to the nature of their work and personal life.

Thus, we examined whether the civil service is "suitable" work for women, and why. We revealed, on the one hand, the continuing stereotypical division of labor in the spheres of male (power, supreme responsibility) and female (work assistant, organizer, or more creative, but rather an individual - Analyst, PR, etc.), on the other - some counter-stereotypical phenomenon and attitudes that characterize the studied group of women: a relatively high self-esteem and tends to "peer" self-realization. Indeed, women in the Russian government agencies, as a rule, do not aspire to the highest levels of power but, the pursuit of a horizontal "expert in your field" is a meaningful career for them (often in spite of the low salaries).