Conference Agenda

RN14_10b: Women's Activism and Leadership for Securing Change
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Tessa Wright, Queen Mary University of London
Location: UP.4.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

Session Abstract

The continuous significance of gender in leadership, struggle and benefits.


Challenging Male Dominance: Critical Actors Building Critical Mass Through a Women's Mentoring Scheme

Susan Durbin1, Ana Lopes2, Stella Warren1

1University of West of England, United Kingdom; 2Newcastle University

The UK aviation and aerospace industry is key to the economy and employment. It has become an important focus for the government’s flagship industrial strategy. Despite its importance, the industry suffers a chronic skills shortage of engineers which could be partly addressed by the recruitment and retention of more women.One way to retain women in the industry is through support programmes, such as mentoring. The alta mentoring Scheme is a programme that was designed and launched throughout the UK aviation and aerospace industry, to address these problems. alta is based upon an ESRC/Industry funded project, to design and launch a mentoring scheme for female professionals throughout the industry to build a critical mass of women who could support one another across the industry.The paper explores the motivations and actions of key individuals who were central to the success of alta. It draws upon the testimonials of a number of critical actors (the founding partners of alta) and interviews with female professionals throughout the industry. It draws upon the theoretical lenses of ‘critical actors’ (Celis and Childs, 2008, 2012) and ‘critical mass’ (Kanter, 1977; Torchia, 2011) to gain insights from the perspectives of those who designed the scheme (critical actors) and the female professionals who were involved in its design and for whom it now operates (critical mass). While the ‘critical actors’ and ‘critical mass’ theories are usually treated as mutually exclusive, this paper argues that they are complementary constituents to an on-going interactive process to achieve the same end.

All’s Fair in Love and Labour? – The Gendered Discourses of Benefiting from Physical Appearance in Working Life

Iida Kukkonen, Tero Pajunen, Erica Åberg, Outi Sarpila

University of Turku, Finland

A multitude of studies illustrate that physical appearance affects recruitment and success on labour markets. Recent sociological discussion has drawn on theories of aesthetic capital (e.g. Anderson et al. 2010) and aesthetic labour (e.g. Mears 2014) to understand such inequalities and the ways in which they are gendered. These theories suggest it is crucial to take into account the social norms and power relations that allow, or even demand of some to develop and exchange their bodily assets for economic capital in various fields of working life. In a previous study we found women benefiting from physical appearance in working life are more disapproved of than are men (Kukkonen et al. 2018). Hence, while women are expected to develop and maintain their appearance-related assets, actually benefiting from those assets may be socially sanctioned particularly for women. In this study, we explore the gendered normative discourses that govern profiting from aesthetic capital in working life. In particular, we are interested in how profiting from physical appearance is justified or sanctioned differently depending on gender constellations. Our data consist of 12 semi-structured group interviews where a total of 47 employees (17 male, 29 female, 1 non-binary) discussed appearance–related assets and norms in their fields of work. Our results shed light on how appearance-related discrimination and gendered labour practices are sustained, and raise doubts about physical appearance as a collectively sustainable means of social mobility for women.

Dynamics and Consequences of De-feminisation of Care

Aleksandra Kanjuo Mrčela, Branko Bembič

University of Ljubljana Faculy of Social Sciences, Slovenia

Analyses of defeminisation of professions have been pointing to obstacles and incentives for men for entering and staying in feminised professions (such as low wages and undesirable social status, positive and negative responses in social environment including social stigmatization of non-traditional masculinity etc.). This article aims to contribute to the analysis of dynamics of gender (de)segregation in the labour market by analysing the situation of men who are working in different occupations in the female-dominated provision of paid care. Our study is based on the examination of the statistical data and thirty interviews with male and female care workers and management representatives in seven care institutions in Slovenia (two care institutions for elderly, three kindergartens, institution for children with special needs, and an association providing personal assistance to the handicapped persons). We would present dynamics of change in care profession that has been defeminizing very slowly. We will build on newly developed occupation centred approaches in analysing occupational gender segregation that shows that different working experiences could be based not only on the gender of the worker but also the gender characteristics of the occupation – male-dominated, female dominated or mixed (Burchell et al., 2014). Our analysis is informed by Marxist conceptualisation of division of labour and feminist theorising of reproductive and unpaid labour. Our discussion and findings will contribute to the theorizing of interweaving of gender occupational segregation and gender equality and could serve as a basis for relevant policy recommendations.

Women and Trade Unions in Sherry Area. From the invisible participation to the need of leadership.

Eva Bermúdez-Figueroa

Universidad de Cádiz, Spain

This paper aims to expose the process of invisibilization of women participation in the labor movement and their obstacles and experiences in taking part in the unions, as an exponent of hegemonic masculinity. We will analyze the conclusions of research conducted in the South of Spain in the University of Cádiz (2017-047/P01-BRM-EBF) and financed by Electors Asociation Ganemos Jerez, Women in labor movement in Sherry Area (1960-2017), we make an effort to synthesize a long period of political and economic changes in a very concrete scenario in the south of Spain, with a deep tradition on self-management and autonomous unions in an industrial area of wine and shipyards (Foweraker,1990). Taking intersectionality as a means of analysis we do find class differences inside work and also unions (Hebson, 2001). These women are representing different professional fields and sectors; some masculinized as the wine sector in Jerez or banking sector, some feminized professions as operators or family care, social work, teaching, and nursing. We will also make a distinction about women unionists and wives of man unionists in late Francoist dictatorship period, when women in Spain weren't plenty inserted in labor market and any union activity was prosecuted by the regime. We will pay attention to the obstacles, experiences, and representations of these women about the different perceptions of dynamics in unionism, daily union company life, glass ceiling, lack of balancing of family and union and work life, protest repertories. We conclude paying attention to the future of unionism and their necessary changes to include women in the decision making and all the areas.