Gender and human resource management: a critical review
Annette Davies and Robyn Thomas
Hakim, C. Key Issues in Women’s Work: Female Heterogeneity and the Polarisation of
Women’s Employment, London: Athlone Press, 1996.
Haas, L.L., Hwang, P. and Russell, G. (eds) Organisational Change and Gender Equity:
International Perspectives on Fathers and Mothers at the Workplace, London: Sage,
Wajcman, J. Managing like a Man: Women and Men in Corporate Management, St.
Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1999.
Maddock, S. Challenging Women: Gender, Culture and Organisation, London: Sage,
Whitehead, S. and Moodley, R. (eds) Transforming Managers: Gendering Change in
the Public Sector, London: UCL Press, 1999.
Gender and equal opportunities
Equal opportunities (EO), gender and the development of different explanations forunderstanding women’s status within work organizations have emerged as importantissues of debate within personnel/human resource management over the last twenty-? veyears. It is timely, after a quarter of a century of EO legislation in the UK, to assesscritically the way that the concept 留學生畢業dissertationof equal opportunities has been operationalized andto evaluate different human resource management (HRM) initiatives that have beenused in an attempt to promote greater gender equality at work. An understanding of thestrengths and weaknesses of the HRM contribution to gender equality will be achievedby a critical review of how the concept of equal opportunities has been de? ned, drawingon insights from contemporary studies of gender and organization. The books selectedfor this review essay re? ect the different positions in the debate ongender and equalopportunities.
Equal opportunities: are women and men the same or different?The debate concerning ‘sameness and difference’ in understanding gender equality andHRM practice is an importantstarting point for the discussion. The early EO movementwas founded on principles of social justice and was committed to removing prejudice
Annette Davies and Robyn Thomas, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, CardiffCF10 3EU, UK (tel: +44 29 2087 4000; fax: +44 29 2087 4419; e-mail:
. J. of Human Resource Management 11:6 December 2000 1125–1136
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
ISSN 0958-5192 print/ISSN 1466-4399 online © 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd
discrimination. The anti-discrimination legislation of the 1970s and the equalopportunities movement throughout the 1970s and early 1980s perceived the problem ofinequality to be mainly one of discrimination. The main objective in terms of promotinggreater equality was the elimination of discriminatory organizational and labourmarketpractices. Essentially, this early approach pointed to the similarities between men andwomen at work and it was assumed that, if discrimination and prejudice were removed,equal outcomes for men and women would result. According to Webb (1997), by theearly 1980s a ‘technical’ formula was emerging, with a set of prescriptions to minimize#p#分頁標題#e#
discrimination. Employers were encouraged to assess applicants on their merits orsuitability for the job and to exclude consideration of their ‘acceptability’.
This approach to equal opportunities has, however, been criticized for beingineffective and misconceived. Many organizations found it very easy to ignore orcircumvent the legislation and its prescriptions and it was shown by many thatformalization was no guarantee of fairness (Cockburn, 1989; Collinson et al., 1990;Webb and Liff, 1988). Many commentators have not hidden their disappointment andfrustration with this ‘liberal’ approach when examining the persistent ‘problem’ ofgender and equal opportunities in organizations. There remain signi? cant differences inthe types of jobs that women and men do, the pay they receive, the hours they work, theskills they acquire and their patterns of employment (Equal Opportunities Commission,1997; Opportunity 2000, 1996). Women’s work, more then men’s, is also affected bytheir home lives. Women continue to have primary, if not exclusive, responsibility forchildren (Wilson, 1999) and it is often suggested that women’s domestic responsibilitiesaffect their ability to participate in the labour market (Hochschild, 1997). As Wilson(1995) concluded, men’s and women’s personal lives and work lives are fundamentallylinked, and the practice of work within organizations cannot be viewed in a vacuum
divorced from these domestic and social arrangements. This debate on the differencesbetween the work lives and domestic lives of men and women has led to a growth ofinterest in a ‘parity’ agenda (Phillips, 1992; Cockburn, 1991). Cockburn emphasizes theimportance of a discourse of difference on women’s terms. She argues that ‘womenmust feel free to be fully present as women, whether this identity is expressed in termsof bodies, emotions or values, without being marginalised, stereotyped or put down forthis’ (1991: 233). The construction of women as essentially different is the main focusof two of the books in this review.Hakim’s Key Issues in Women’s Work emphasizes sex differences in work patterns
and experiences as well as in orientations and commitment. The book focuses on thechoices women make, the diversity of these choices and their consequences.
Importantly, it is an upbeat and optimistic account of the differences between men andwomen, warning the reader against automatically equating these differences withinequality and subordination. Hakim believes that it is women who are the mainpropagators and bene? ciaries of the ideology of the sexual division of labour and iscritical of the suggestion that women are disadvantaged and dissatis? ed ‘with their lot’.Hakim presents a rich and detailed account of her theoretical position, making use ofdata from many disciplines and quoting evidence from a number of industrial societiesbesides Britain. A number of key issues addressed in this book highlight her thesis ofgender differences. First, she emphasizes the importance of part-time employment as a‘conscious and preferred choice’ for a large percentage of women. Hakim disputes theargument that women are forced into part-time working by the need to combine#p#分頁標題#e#
employment and child-care activities, commenting that part-time workers with childrenfeel they get ‘the best of both worlds’. However, while the part-timers themselves mightbe satis? ed, Hakim somewhat disturbingly dismisses them as ‘not a salient sector of the1126 The International Journal of Human Resource Managementworkforce’ and ‘the most unstable members of the workforce’ (p. 67). Second, Hakimcriticizes the evidence that sex differentials in work orientation and commitment havefaded away, asserting that such a conclusion is the result of political correctness, andaccusing researchers of a selective and blinkered presentation of the research evidence.She presents evidence to show that men and women still accept the modern sexualdivision of labour that allocates the primary income-earning role to men and theprimary homemaking role to women. In conclusion, she argues that ‘work orientationsand work commitment, work plans and interest in promotion are all determined by orconsistent with acceptance of fundamental sex role differentiation’ (p. 118). Finally,
Hakim makes reference to evidence regarding sex differences in absenteeism andturnover but again suggests that ‘sensitive to the climate of opinion, these aredownplayed or thought to http://www.aleyasingroup.com/dissertation_writing/be unworthy of emphasis in research reports’ (p. 123). Thepicture painted by Hakim is of women’s increasingly fragmented, discontinuous,intermittent employment, much of which is part-time. She concludes that ‘it is notobvious that employment has become a more salient priority in women’s lives, ratherthan a more frequent interruption of their domestic activities, which clearly dominatechoices and take precedence for most women’ (p. 144).
The only group that Hakim feels is seriously challenging the traditional sexualdivision of labour is career women working full-time. She even suggests thatdifferences in attitudes about work and about traditional male and female roles are morede? ned between women working full-time and women working part-time than betweenmen and women. Hakim argues that the minority group of career women is notrepresentative of all working women, let alone adult women, yet she feels that its voiceis the one most often heard. In conclusion, one of the main strengths of Hakim’s thesisis not her emphasis on the differences between men and women in terms of theirchoices, preferences and orientations, but her emphasis on the differences betweenwomen themselves. As she states, ‘the polarisation of the female workforce is toopronounced for us to ignore it any longer in research and requires different analyticalapproaches’ (p. 186). It has already been stated that Hakim’s account is an optimisticone and throughout this volume she appears critical of feminist researchers who focuson female disadvantages in the labour force. This is particularly evident from heremphasis on the privileged position of the vast majority of women who have more‘choices’ than men in terms of their working life. They, she argues, have the choice towork full- or part-time or the choice to become a full-time homemaker. Men, on theother hand, are pressured into full-time work roles with few other options. There are anumber of problems with Hakim’s thesis and a critical assessment of this work is#p#分頁標題#e#
presented later.In contrast to Hakim’s account of gender differences, largely linked to thepreferences and choices of women who prioritize domestic roles, Maddock’s ChallengingWomen is based on the fundamental thesis that men and women organize andmanage differently. The aim of this book is to ‘give voice’ to those she terms‘challenging women’. There is little public recognition of challenging women, she
argues, or of the role they play, or have the potential to play, in changing organizations,especially within public-sector transformation. Maddock argues that these challengingwomen ‘represent a new breed in public administration’ (p. 159), arguing that they aremore re? exive and generate a style focused on discussion and debate. They possessvision and are driven by a desire to see social values incorporated into managementthinking. Central to her thesis, therefore, is the fact that these women have been puttingtheir belief in the needs of the community before their own career prospects. ‘Theseradical women were challenging and seeking not just a change in management style butDavies and Thomas: Gender and human resource management 1127a total paradigm shift inthinking about public service’ (p. 160). Maddock portrays thesewomen as being everything that is good against ‘bad ineffective men’. For example, shesays that ‘women wanted to get things done and to solve problems, not avoid them.They saw their male colleagues as side-stepping and avoiding dif? culties until a crisisoccurred’ (p. 164). She concludes that the qualities of these women are exactly thosethat are needed when transforming organizations, yet ‘within male cultures they areridiculed for their transforming capacities’ (p. 227). As a result, it is suggested, these
women are seen not as leaders but as deviants.
Maddock’s book tends to draw from a largely uncritical, functionalist analysis and
throughout the volume, unlike in Hakim’s book, there is a failure to substantiate or
provide evidence for the sweeping generalizations and comments that are made. In
Chapter 8 of the book she introduces us to her sample of women who were all from
Labour-controlled local authorities in the North of England. However, there is no
mention of how many women were chosen for the study, how they were sampled or
how the information was gathered. It is simply stated that they were chosen for
interview on the basis of their commitment to public-sector management and their
interest in improving practices long before reforms and managerialism hit Britain.
Although Maddock makes the point on the ? rst page of her book that women are not all
the same and that they are as diverse as men, her unstructured style of writing often fails
to highlight these differences. The tendency on many occasions is towards an
essentialist analysis of women managers and their skills.
The accounts of Hakim and Maddock, although they raise different issues and review#p#分頁標題#e#
different academic literatures, are similar in emphasizing differences between men and
women, despite also recognizing within-group differences. Both authors also complain
about the presentation of all women as downtrodden and disadvantaged. Hakim extols
the ‘choices’ that women have, while Maddock has ‘given voice’ to a group of radical
women who play signi? cant roles in transforming processes within organizations.
However, there are both theoretical and empirical problems with this ‘difference’
perspective. There is, ? rst of all, a tendency for gender differences to be treated as if
they are constant and to ignore the ? uctuating nature of female experiences and
identities. Hakim, for example, can be criticized for not considering how circumstances
frame preferences and choices and for not examining the implications of a change in
circumstance on these choices. Hakim also fails to take a longitudinal perspective.
Because changes may occur in the way that women and men balance commitment to
employment and home life over the life course, more emphasis needs to be placed on
the important interplay between attitudes and situational factors in understanding
female commitment and orientation to work (Ginn et al., 1996). Hakim’s work can be
accused of downplaying the dif? culties posed by childcare as a major obstacle to
women who would wish to increase their working hours. A large amount of research
work shows a clear association between part-time, rather than full-time, employment
and women’s caring responsibilities (Dex et al., 1993). Britain has the poorest public
childcare provision in the European Union and employers have been slow to adopt
‘family-friendly’ policies. Given different circumstances and new opportunities, women
may behave and think differently. A second problem with Hakim’s thesis is her
insistence that not only do women ‘freely’ choose part-time working but that they are
very satis? ed with their lot. Ginn et al. (1996) argue that this ‘expressed satisfaction’ by
http://www.aleyasingroup.com/dissertation_writing/part-timers with their job is likely to re? ect a lack of alternatives and a weak bargaining
position with employers. The ? ndings have also been challenged by more detailed
examination (Rubery et al., 1994). Also, it should be remembered, as Joshi et al. (1995)
1128 The International Journal of Human Resource Management
conclude, that the dependent wife remains ? nancially vulnerable, having traded in her
earning power for a homemaker role.
Maddock’s emphasis on the different styles of female managers can be linked
theoretically to the ‘feminization of management’ thesis. According to this perspective,#p#分頁標題#e#
the move towards ? atter organizational structures and the consequential shaking up of
embedded layers in the hierarchy is seen to go hand in hand with the promotion of socalled
‘feminine styles’ of management, involving such strategies as ? exible working,
co-operation and team-working. It is therefore argued that recent changes in
organizations may offer opportunities for female managers and for increased female
participation (Cooper and Davidson, 1984; Rosener, 1990; Marshall, 1995). Essential
‘feminine’ qualities are viewed by some commentators as vital for organizational
prosperity, with the implication that organizations need to capitalize on feminine
qualities to survive and prosper (Rosener, 1990; Bacchi, 1990). Women are seen to ? t
the pro? le of the ‘new manager’, thus providing a base from which to break into the
male-dominated hierarchy (Maile, 1995). Maddock argues that the working practices
and vision of management proposed by the women who participated in her study
corresponded to this contemporary theorizing. The qualities of these women were
precisely those that management gurus extolled: ‘social commitment, self-motivation,
autonomy, openness to change and a desire to be a change agent’ (p. 187). However, the
feminization of management thesis has been dogged by controversy both epistemologically
and empirically. Focusing on women’s ‘unique skills’ implies essentialist
claims about female characteristics. This leads to the danger that other essentialist
notions of women as passive, weak and emotional may be used to justify, continue and
reinforce a gendered division of labour, where women are judged as inferior when
judged according to a variety of ‘essential’ ‘masculine’ management skills. Gendered
notions of skills mean that ‘feminine’ skills are seen as ‘natural’ and common-sensical
and are therefore unrecognized and unrewarded in the organization. Such thinking
might reinforce the link between women’s work and inferiority, and distance women
from the image of the competitive, rational leader. Finally, the championing of
women’s so-called ‘feminine skills’ may merely lead to the commodi? cation of their
emotional labour, subsumed under the dominant masculinist managerial discourses of
the organization. Rather than resulting in a ‘better world’ (Bacchi, 1990) or an
organization based on notions of social justice, as Maddock proposes in her volume, the
feminization of management becomes an element in the discourses of performativity.
Therefore, as emphasized by Webb (1997), the political dimension of the construction
of women as essentially different is ignored at some cost. Empirically, research has
shown that the feminization of management does not necessarily lead to an increase in#p#分頁標題#e#
the number of women managers (Calas and Smircich, 1993; Simpson, 1997). According
to these authors, women have failed to establish themselves in any great number in the
line management positions central to the organization.
However, despite these inherent problems with the concept of ‘difference’ for gender
equality, the diversity model has dominated HRM over the last ten years. Emerging in
the USA in the 1980s, managing diversity has been viewed as a paradigmatic shift from
equal opportunity (Iles et al., 1998). This is usually de? ned as taking a longer-term,
proactive, central and strategic view of equality issues than the earlier EO perspective
(Wilson and Iles, 1995). Commentators have suggested, albeit with little theoretical
grounding or empirical support, that managing diversity makes business sense and can
be a source of competitive advantage. As Liff and Dickens (2000) argue, the positive
organizational bene? ts to be derived from equality issues became the dominant
rationale for equality action in the 1980s and 1990s. In gender terms, the emphasis on
Davies and Thomas: Gender and human resource management 1129
promoting equal opportunities and diversity as sound business practice may also present
opportunities for women and challenge existing patriarchal practices (Dickens, 1998).
From a rational, ‘hard’ HRM perspective, equal opportunities makes good business
sense, in that it ensures that HR potential is maximized (Alvesson and Billing, 1997).
This can be seen by the way that the accommodation of difference has been
incorporated into ‘hard’ HRM discourse. As Webb (1997) argues, this represents wider
moves away from collective models of industrial relations to one that promotes ‘hard’
HRM and the maximizing of the contribution of the individual. Similarly, from a ‘soft’
HRM perspective, by emphasizing the importance of learning, ? exibility and creative
organizations, traditional gender stereotypes centring around ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’
work may also be challenged (Dickens, 1998). This latter perspective highlights the key
role played by organizational culture and cultural change in realizing the claimed
bene? ts of diversity (Iles et al., 1998).
In Haas et al.’s Organisational Change and Gender Equity the stated aim is a better
understanding of the strategies for changing cultural values and norms of work
organizations to facilitate gender equity and work–life balance. The emphasis placed on
the need to change corporate culture is regarded by the editors as a particular strength
of this book and is consistent with other recent analyses. The book is an edited
collection from social scientists in four countries, namely the UK, USA, Australia and
Sweden. The contributors to the volume are all engaged in projects that focus on what#p#分頁標題#e#
companies are doing to help individuals combine work and family roles. A strong
theme throughout this work is that these types of HR strategies are developed because
of several business-related pressures. Some pressures relate to preventing productivity
losses associated with dependent care or a lack of work/family balance, while others are
seen as presenting opportunities for organizations. Brannen and Lewis, for example,
quote a study of 243 large companies which showed that women returned to work after
maternity leave sooner in nine of ten companies that offered family-friendly
This edited volume presents an impressive and well-structured account of how
national cultures and social policies place constraints on, or provide encouragement for,
men’s and women’s sharing of breadwinning and childcare roles as well as the
development of gender-equitable work–family policies and practices within work
organizations. An international perspective is adopted that enables authors to examine
common challenges and solutions that may or may not work across country lines. The
book is divided into three parts. Part 1 provides detailed accounts of the status of
mothers and fathers in the labour market in the four countries. It concludes that trends
evident in all the countries are remarkably similar despite very different public policy
orientations and social forces. Even in ‘enlightened’ Sweden, Bjornberg argues,
Swedish women are experiencing a backlash in their attempt to achieve equal
participation in the labour market. ‘Traditional gender discrimination is being
revitalised by stiffer competition in the labour market, in which men are favoured. By
earning more, men can set the conditions for participation in family life at the expense
of women’ (p. 73).
However, it is in Parts 2 and 3 of this volume that emphasis is placed on the
importance of cultural change and the conditions that hinder or facilitate the
development of work–family policies. These parts provide detailed information about
the practices and policies within many different types of organizations located in
different cultures. Many contributors describe how some workplaces have become more
responsive to the family needs of and demands on their employees, while also
emphasizing the dif? culties and problems that lie ahead. In the introduction to Part 3 it
1130 The International Journal of Human Resource Management
is recognized that ‘deeply held assumptions about the appropriate roles of men and
women and about the structure of work life must be challenged if real progress . . . is
to occur’ (p. 163). The general philosophy expressed in this volume is that cultural
change may be hard, but is not impossible. Consequently, many of the chapters offer a
range of general principles for effecting successful change. For example Lewis, in#p#分頁標題#e#
Chapter 11, analyses processes of organizational change in two very different UK case
studies and puts forward four general principles of change. These focus on the need to
clarify objectives; to secure strong leadership either from senior management or from
key line or operational managers; to empower people to feel a sense of entitlement to
vary their work arrangements to meet family needs; and ? nally to address the culture of
working long hours. Other authors, in relation to different companies and different
national cultures, present similar recommendations.
In presenting their ? ndings, many of the contributors of this edited volume recognize
the dif? culties of such change. However, throughout the book there is a failure to
problematize the very nature of such culture change programmes or to discuss the
limitations of such an approach for achieving equal opportunities. There is a growing
body of critical literature on organizational culture that has been ignored. Martin et al.
(1998) refer to three main lines of criticism of the culture change literature which have
important implications for HRM practitioners. The ? rst criticism centres on the concept
of ‘culture’ itself and the potential for managing it effectively. The Haas et al. volume
interprets culture as something organizations ‘have’ as opposed to something an
organization ‘is’ (Smircich, 1983). According to Martin et al. (1998) ‘purists who view
organisational culture from this latter perspective claim that culture cannot easily be
manipulated but only understood and used to interpret the behaviour of participants’
(p. 75). A second criticism questions the motivation for cultural change within
organizations and refers to the in? uence of institutional pressures and management
gurus and consultants in exerting pressure on ‘non-adopters’. Finally, the operating
assumptions of culture change programmes are criticized for their emphasis on
changing attitudes and values as a route to behavioural change. The missing ingredient
in many of these programmes is the role and in? uence of structure. The assumptions
that underpin culture change programmes may therefore be questionable and consequently
the underlying philosophy of being able to promote EO cultures, as documented
in the Haas et al. volume, is perhaps optimistic. What is being put forward is an
‘integrative’ view of culture and an unproblematic reconciliation of different interests
within work organizations. As Liff and Dickens (2000) have argued, ‘selective equality
action is inherent in the business case approach since it will occur only where
organisational needs dictate. Business case arguments are therefore likely to generate
equality initiatives for women at senior levels and in areas of skill shortage’ (p. 91).#p#分頁標題#e#
Other authors have also highlighted the persistence of a gendered substructure even in
organizations with family-friendly policies (Acker, 1992) and it has been shown how
women have had to adapt and match the cultural expectations of the work organization,
with no evidence of any cultural change. Evetts (2000), for example, shows how
women seeking promotion in engineering and science organizations had to demonstrate
promotion potential in the organization’s terms.
Wajcman’s Managing Like a Man presents a more critical and detailed consideration
of the problems of cultural change within organization. The focus here is on the
gendered regimes of senior management. Wajcman argues that an investigation of the
gender relations of senior management in a ‘post-feminist’ age can be instructive for a
number of reasons. First, women’s access to senior management is both a symbol and
measure of organizational change. Second, in studying exceptional women in an
Davies and Thomas: Gender and human resource management 1131
atypical context the usually hidden processes and tensions of gender relations at work
are likely to be more visible. Finally, in relation to questions of culture and subjectivity,
the role of management is crucial, as managerial attributes, personalities and style
directly in? uence the development of a common understanding and language within
organizations. According to Wajcman, ‘gendering processes are involved in how jobs
and careers are constituted both in the symbolic order and in organisational practices
(discursive and material) and these power relations are embedded in the subjective
gender identity of managers’ (p. 3). The research described in the book involves a study
of male and female managers in high-technology companies, boasting sophisticated EO
policies and formally committed to their implementation. While Wajcman acknowledges
that to some extent her study has been made possible because of the success of
EO legislation and policies, her research demonstrates that these policies have not
achieved the intended or hoped-for outcomes. As she states, ‘successful women are not
so much representatives of, as exiles from, their sex’ (p. 11).
The point that Wajcman emphasizes throughout her book is not that women are
different from men per se but that this difference is the basis for unequal distribution of
power and resources. In Chapter 2 of the text she gives a very clear and thorough
account of how gender divisions are actively created and sustained in the processes of
organizational life and how the male culture of organizations shapes gender relations at
work. She argues that, whereas a minority of women are gaining some organizational
and economic power within these cultures, their presence does not amount to a#p#分頁標題#e#
transformation. A strength of the book is its examination of domestic as well as
workplace experiences and arrangements. Wajcman highlights the unchanging sexual
contract in the home and its implications for relations in the workplace.
Therefore, even though the companies that Wajcman surveyed were all ‘? agship’
companies of Opportunity 2000, it is reported that fewer than 40 per cent of the women
surveyed felt that men and women had equal chances of promotion (this compared to
70 per cent of men). Nearly two-thirds of the women and a third of men believed that
a ‘glass ceiling’ limits women’s ability to move up the ladder. This is despite the fact
that the women in Wajcman’s study had all either made a conscious decision not to
have children or had organized childcare and domestic life in such a way that they were
able to dedicate themselves to their career. More women than men referred to the
prejudice of colleagues and the ‘clubbiness’ of senior management as obstacles to their
progress. In summary, then, Wajcman refers to the importance of informal institutionalized
practices within these ‘model’ companies, which continue to operate and
disadvantage women despite considerable changes in their formal norms. Visibility,
involvement in networks and acceptability are the most crucial factors for career
success and these, Wajcman argues, are gendered processes. Men who are also
ineffective at these games fail just like women. What emerges most clearly from
Wajcman’s research is that women have to become more like (certain) men to pursue
a successful management career. This is obviously, as she states, a very restricted model
of equality. She points out that ‘women in my study have had to abandon aspects of
their femininity and develop attributes that resemble those of male executives’ (p. 131).
Wacjman also emphasizes the intense sexualization of women managers and the
implications for women in terms of the negotiation of workplace relationships. She
concludes that, ‘while a new corporate masculinity may be emerging that is
signi? cantly different from traditional forms of male management, it does not
apparently herald the achievement of sex equality for women’ (p. 131).
The debate suggests, therefore, that new forms of managerial competence are being
constituted around masculine images of workaholic, aggressive and hard manage-
1132 The International Journal of Human Resource Management
rialism, with a gendered subtext based around the idea of competitive masculinity
(Maddock and Parkin, 1993; Kerfoot and Knights, 1993; Thomas, 1996; Halford et al.,
1997). The new cultures promote long hours and self-sacri? ce and, clearly, those with
domestic responsibilities (and these are more likely to be women) ? nd it more dif? cult#p#分頁標題#e#
to thrive in these cultures. Furthermore, Halford et al. (1997) argue that, even when
women have no domestic responsibilities, they are often assumed to be less committed
than their male counterparts. Other commentators have also referred to a culture change
towards a more aggressive, ruthless and coercive management style in the poststructuring
era (Collinson and Collinson, 1997). Therefore it is suggested that the new
cultures are based on ‘an emergent masculine hegemony’ of the ‘active, free-standing
(male) individual’ (Halford et al., 1997: 265). The gender implications of these ‘new
cultures’ are clear, as women, for a variety of reasons, may be unwilling or unable to
compete (Thomas, 1996; Simpson, 1997; Collinson and Collinson, 1997).
In the concluding chapter, however, Wajcman rightly points out that feminine and
masculine qualities are not the preserve of either sex. ‘Feminine’ styles of management
may be adopted by men, as Kerfoot and Knights (ibid.) argue, and not all women will
follow this way of working. However, for many women, showing feminine attributes is
something that needs to be managed in their organization, as they can be seen to silence
their authority and their involvement in decision making. For women who emulate more
masculine styles of management, this raises dif? culties in denial of sexuality, tensions
in identity management and in their life experiences and relations (Collinson et al.,
1990). Wajcman has argued that particular notions of manhood and masculinity are
embedded in the gender regime of institutions and the author clearly demonstrates the
high price that women managers pay for venturing into male-dominated territory.
Wajcman therefore, in understanding issues of gender and equality within work
organization, moves us beyond the reductionism of the sameness and difference debate,
and focuses on the ways in which gender divisions are actively created and sustained in
organizational and home life. The ? nal volume in this review, Transforming Managers:
Gendering Change in the Public Sector, edited by Whitehead and Moodley, takes us
even further in understanding how ‘organization’ and ‘management’ are contested
concepts, socially constructed, in ? ux and certainly not abstract and (gender) neutral.
More speci? cally, and perhaps optimistically, the volume considers the issue of
organizational restructuring as an arena for the challenging of masculinist managerial
discourses. Focusing on the micro-politics of resistance (in? uenced by Foucauldian
feminist approaches), the volume examines how men and women managers make sense
of the changing managerial and organizational landscape of public-sector restructuring.
The book is divided into two parts, with Part 1 presenting a number of personal#p#分頁標題#e#
accounts and wider case-study research on women in management. Part 2 then
considers issues of men, management and masculinities. The book emphasizes the
importance of understanding gender and identities as being in process rather than
objective and ? xed and thus there may be multiple forms of masculinity and femininity.
It is this that underpins the main aim of the book which is to demonstrate, in a range of
public-sector contexts, the gendered and sexualized interrelationships of organizational
and managerial life.
The chapters in the Whitehead and Moodley book consider a number of issues
centred on the framework of voice, power and resistance. It is argued that restructuring
in the public services, together with managerialism, promotes new forms of masculinist
managerial subjectivities ‘that expect management to be men in the most essentialist
sense of the word’ (Brewis, p. 90). While the traditional culture of many public-sector
Davies and Thomas: Gender and human resource management 1133
organizations could be understood as ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ (Maddock and Parkin, 1994),
the new discourses of management seem, on the face of it, gender neutral. However, as
Ozga and Walker argue in their chapter, we are witnessing a ‘re-masculinisation’ of
management, albeit in a different con? guration. The promotion of more ‘feminine ways
of working’ merely co-opts women managers into using their ‘special people skills’ in
improving economy and ef? ciency. As with Maddock’s and Wajcman’s work, however,
many of the chapters conclude that heterosexual masculinity dominates the meanings of
management in the new regimes and that those who stand outside this norm are vili? ed
and marginalized. Women who choose to perform outside their gendered scripts remain
invisible and inaudible. Thus, while the introduction of managerialism has enabled the
challenging of accepted ‘truths’ within these organizations, and there is some evidence
that women have been able to make inroads into management and to manage in
different ways, this has been without a fundamental challenge to the masculinist nature
of management and organizations.
In conclusion, in terms of understanding gender equality and HRM, these ? ve books
demonstrate the complexity of the issues involved in this debate. Simplistic explanations
of gender inequality or simplistic solutions linked to the feminization of
management or cultural change fail to challenge the conceptualization of work and of
organizations as gender neutral. As argued by Dickens (1998), gender-neutral HRM
strategies may even contribute to the gendering process and the gendered nature of
organizations as they leave the underlying gendered concepts as ‘given’ and therefore
unchallenged. In addition, by presenting women as a homogeneous group, ‘masculine’#p#分頁標題#e#
and ‘feminine’ are reduced to simple, uncontested dualisms (Alvesson and Billing,
1992) and differences intra-group are ignored or discounted (Hooks, 1989). In the
current context of restructuring, there is now growing evidence of a ‘re-masculinization’
of management albeit in a different con? guration (Whitehead, 1999). Within these
environments, resource constraints, devolved decision making and a managerial
subculture hostile towards equal opportunities have all served to put equal opportunities
at the bottom of the agenda (Cunningham et al., 1999). Twenty-? ve years after the
introduction of Equal Opportunities legislation the quest for gender equality is almost as
dif? cult and problematic as ever.
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