Doing Gender at the Workplace

Doing Gender at the Workplace

Drawing on the literature on gender, discuss how ‘doing gender’ applies to women and men’s experiences of work.

“Doing Gender” at the Workplace

Gender is among the most controversial topics globally and has been drawing numerous discussions since the ancient days. The debates around gender are characterized by extreme polarization with some people asserting that gender equality is unachievable. The global discourses on gender have evolved drastically, and gender equality currently focusses on the injustices against women (Elbers & Grigore, 2018, p. 512). There is a significant gap between men and women in almost all sectors, including educational achievement, political representation, health and participation in the labour markets. The experiences of both men and women at work are largely shaped by the existing gendered ideologies (Powell, 2018, p. 22). The traditional gender stereotypes still influence what male and female employees experience in their work environments. Both genders are in most working environments are compelled into “doing gender” which has led to major implications in the labour markets. “Doing gender” refers to “creating differences between girls and boys and women and men, differences that are not natural, essential, or biological” (West & Zimmerman, 1987, p. 137). The created differences determine what is socially, culturally, politically and economically acceptable for both genders. The experiences of male and female employees at the workplace are dictated by the established notions of what is acceptable. “Doing gender” propagates inequalities in the areas of compensation, promotions and respect at the workplace.

“Doing gender” at the workplace contributes to unequal compensation of men and women at the workplace. The existing pay gap between women and men in the labour markets is undeniable. Women who occupy similar job positions as men in organizations are compensated relatively lowly compared to the men (Acker, 2006, p. 450). Even though there have been interventions in organizations to encourage gender equality, it is yet to be achieved. The interventions are perceived to be very slow in attaining the desired outcomes (Yvonne & Mieke, 2011, p. 278). The existing wage gap hurts women at workplaces and demotivates them. Much often, the employers claim that the gap is not a form of discrimination but as a result of the women’s failure to adjust to meet the factors that could challenge the differences in earning between men and women (Rao, et al., 2016, p. 166). The claim is marred by gender bias since the factors that are highlighted are majorly affected by gender. The men believe that it is okay for them to earn better than women because they work harder (Rottenberg, 2014, p. 422). The women, on the other hand, demotivated by their experiences at work, resolve to feel satisfied by what they are earning. The earning gap in the workplaces is reinforced by traditional stereotypes which imply that men should earn more to gain respect from the society. “Doing gender” creates a conviction among women that they should be compensated lowly.Order Now from Course ResearchersThe ongoing gender inequalities contribute to limited visibility of women at the workplace, denying them equal opportunities with men for upward mobility. “Doing gender” creates the impression that men should lead in organizations. The women are not only denied top positions in organizations but also systematically eliminated on their way to the top (Yvonne & Mieke, 2011, p. 277). Women are denied equal opportunities with men which helps in ensuring that they hardly get their way to top management. For instance, men are inclined to getting more training opportunities for executive positions compared to women (Hirst & Schwabenland, 2017, p. 171). Similarly, companies are likely to allow men to go on paid study leaves than women. Thus, the global economies provide unequal opportunities for women and men in relation to training, education and career choices which inhibit the achievement of women. Male promotion at the workplace is grounded on the stereotype that male employees are more productive than female employees (Wu & Cheng, 2016, p. 268). The high productivity of males in work environments is linked to their seemingly passive role in the domestic spaces. Women have possibly learnt to live with this aspect of “doing gender” and embrace their domestic roles with joy. The failure to challenge the patriarchal structures which have penetrated to all societal aspects has a huge contribution in female subservience at the workspaces.

Harassment, though unlawful, is a major challenge in most workplaces affecting both male and female employees. Harassment entails and form of physical or verbal conduct that indicates hostility. Harassment is mostly propagated on race, gender, religion, age and disability. Gender harassment is among the most prevalent harassments at the workplace and mostly affects women. Sexual harassment is normalized in some workplaces, and those who propagate them are male clients or employees in the top positions. The status of the propagators of the harassments intimidates the women making them not to report about the injustice. Traditional stereotypes stand against women speaking against the men, a fact that further discourages women from taking legal action against the men. Although women have been reporting harassment at the workplace in recent days, there are still many cases of harassment that go unreported due to the fear of destroying one’s relationship with the organization. Women who report harassment are accused of destroying the reputation of their organizations and risk losing their jobs. It is critical for women to become feminist killjoys and speak against workplace harassment. There is a need to structure appropriate responses for various contexts as most people do not like being called out (Ahmed, 2010, p. 6). Conversations challenging the status quo should be based on mutual understanding to make them more productive.

“Doing gender” is responsible for most of the gender inequalities committed against the women in workplaces. Both male and female workers have been socialized in a specified way that determines not only their compensation but also their promotion opportunities to the top job posts in organizations. To increase equality at the workplaces, both male and female employees need to start “undoing gender. All people in the workplaces should become feminist killjoys-grow uncomfortable of the existing status quo and challenge it. If all employees challenge the inequalities at the workplace, they will ultimately be put into an end.


Acker, J., 2006. Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), pp. 441-464.

Ahmed, S., 2010. Feminist Killjoys (and Other Willful Subjects). Scholar and Feminist Online. [Online]  Available at: http://sfonline.barnard.edu/polyphonic/ahmed_01.htm

Elbers, F. & Grigore, A.-M., 2018. The Gender Gap: Past, Present and Perspectives. Review of International Comparative Management, 19(5), pp. 504-515.

Hirst, A. & Schwabenland, C., 2017. Doing gender in the ‘new office’. Gender, Work & Organization, 25(2), pp. 159-176.

Powell, S., 2018. Gender equality in academia: Intentions and consequences. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, 1(18), pp. 19-35.

Rao, A. et al., 2016. Gender at Work: An Experiment in “Doing Gender”. Leading and Managing in the Social Sector, pp. 155-173.

Rottenberg, C., 2014. The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism. Cultural Studies, 28(3), pp. 418-437.

West, C. & Zimmerman, D. H., 1987. Doing Gender. Gender and Society, 1(2), pp. 125-151.

Wu, R. & Cheng, X., 2016. Gender equality in the workplace: The effect of gender equality on productivity growth among the Chilean manufacturers. The Journal of Developing Areas, 50(1), pp. 257-274.

Yvonne, B. & Mieke, V., 2011. Gender Change, Organizational Change and Gender Equality Strategies. In: E. Jeanes, D. Knights & P. Yancey-Martin, eds. Handbook of Gender, Work and Organization. Londen: John Wiley, pp. 277-290.

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