Sub-theme 04: (SWG) Challenging Inequality: Changing Gender and Organizations

Judith K. Pringle
Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Susan Meriläinen
University of Lapland, Finland
Julia Nentwich
University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Call for Papers


This sub-theme is dedicated to understanding how change can take place to disrupt the recurring gender order. Is the fusion of gendered identity and workplace practice unshakeable? We will focus on the (im)possibilities of changing gendered inequalities within organizations. Gendered inequality may be apparent within interpersonal relations at work, the organization of gender, and the gendering of organizations. A focus on gendered inequalities may mask other connected inequalities within organizations that occur because of race, ethnicity, age, sexuality and other key aspects of social identity.

Despite decades of energetic effort from researchers, practitioners and activists, gendered processes and practices have often turned out to be stubbornly resistant to change. Structures of inequality reproduce themselves, unless agents become aware of their position and act to challenge the status quo. Conscious awareness is a key link between inequality regimes and action. Yet creating change always involves competing interests (Acker, 2006) and inevitably creates resistance from the power holders.

In this sub-theme, we invite participants to share experiences of intervening in different local contexts to achieve gender change in organizations. Organizations could be large, small, local, global, non-profit, entrepreneurial and corporate. Change might be fostered through individual or collective acts of resistance, protesting and other kinds of actions, as well as through organizational policies or managerial programmes. Gender change may move among micro, meso and macro levels of analyses. Diverse research approaches are invited including autoethnographic reflections, organizational case studies, broad surveys and linked interventions.

Papers submitted to this sub-theme will address gender change in organizations and may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  1. What kind of feminisms do we find in today's organizations and how do they contribute to change or persistence of the gendered organization?
  2. How does change within gendered organisations contribute to uncover less visible forms of discrimination and exclusion such as aspects of sexuality, disabilities, race, age, and non-verbal shifts in social interactions?
  3. How is change in organizations initiated, facilitated and fostered?
  4. How do organizational strategies such as equal opportunities, gender mainstreaming or diversity management contribute to change (or rather resistance and/or persistence)?
  5. How do individual change agents, perhaps the (un)tempered radical (Meyerson and Scully, 1995), shift and resist gendered norms?
  6. How do change activities take resistance into account, how is it experienced and what are the consequences?
  7. In what respect does organizational context or culture influence opportunities for action?
  8. In what ways does resistance against dominant gender norms contribute to the (un)doing of gender and hence provide a potential for change?



Acker, J. (2006): "Inequality regimes: gender, class, and race in organizations." Gender & Society, 20 (4), 441–464
Meyerson, D.E. & M. Scully (1995): "Tempered radicalism and the politics of ambivalence and change." Organization Science, 6 (5), 585–600


Judith K. Pringle Judith Pringle is a Professor at Auckland University of Technology, coordinator of AUT Gender and Diversity Research Group. Her research includes: workplace diversity, gendered organisations, and reframing career theory. . She has published widely in these areas primarily in journals and book chapters. She is also co-author of 2006 Handbook of Workplace Diversity. London: Sage.
Susan Meriläinen Susan Meriläinen is a Professor at the University of Lapland. Her publications centre on the (un)doing of gender in organizations. She is currently doing research on senses, body, and knowing in organizations.
Julia Nentwich Julia Nentwich PhD, is at the Research Institute for Organizational Psychology, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Her major research interests are the social and discursive practices of (un)doing gender and diversity, change agency and resistance. She has published widely on these topics.