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Handbook of Gender, Work, and Organization by Patricia Yancey Martin, David Knights,, Emma L Jeanes

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Chapter 17

Gender Change, Organizational Change, and Gender Equality Strategies1

Yvonne Benschop and Mieke Verloo

Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Introduction

Change is at the heart of gender studies and the field of gender, work, and organization is no exception to that. Since second-wave feminism provided the impetus to question women’s and men’s positions in society, an ever increasing flow of research has problematized the gendered division of labor and made a plea for gender equality. A quest for change is thus more or less central to the field. Despite many initiatives aimed at changing organizations into gender-balanced or gender-equitable workplaces, change is slow at best. Only from a historical perspective, when one looks back a few decades, does it become clear that changes toward equality have indeed occurred, at various levels (welfare states, organizations, and the attitudes of people).

Work by Mills (2006) on gender in the airline industry illustrates that gender change does occur. In the twenty-first century, direct discrimination by sex and sexual harassment are forbidden by law, at least in many Western countries. Virtually all occupations are now formally open to women as well as men, although the first women to enter certain masculine occupations still make headline news. Nonetheless, a depressing amount of evidence on asymmetries between the sexes persists in economic, cultural, and political domains (Fraser, 2009).

Studies of gender inequality ...

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