Gender at Work, Gendered Work: Dynamics of Discrimination

To be determined
To be determined

Session Code: FEM3A
Session Format: Regular
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Feminist Sociology
Session Categories: Regular Session

Gender intersects with other axes of identity to create particular experiences of working life. Women, girls, and marginalized groups earn less, have fewer opportunities for employment, education and training, and contend with poverty, health challenges, discriminatory norms, policies and practices that do not adequately consider the needs of diverse women or mothers. Their work is often sorted and segregated into particular niches or the margins, and routinely devalued and devalorized. Acknowledging ongoing and persistent gender inequalities in workplaces and the labour market, this session features papers that explore and consider the material conditions of gender and work under capitalist patriarchy. Tags: Equality / Inequality, Feminist Studies, Work And Professions

Organizers: Linda Christiansen-Ruffman, Saint Mary's University, Jolin Joseph, York University


Nicole Etherington, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Who leads, who listens, and who is left out: A qualitative exploration of gender and teamwork in the operating room

Effective teamwork in the operating room (OR) is essential for surgical patient safety. Existing teamwork interventions have had mixed results, suggesting a need to consider factors outside of what has traditionally been studied. This includes explicitly addressing issues related to power and hierarchy, such as gender, in order to accurately reflect the broader social context in which teamwork takes place.  Although our understanding of gender as it relates to individual surgical practice and outcomes continues to improve, we have yet to consider how it, along with additional social identity factors, may shape interprofessional teamwork in the OR.   Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with OR team members between November 2018 and July 2019 and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Participants were recruited from each of the three main OR professions (nursing, anesthesia, surgery) across four large academic hospitals in Ontario, Canada. Sixty-six interviews were completed. Traditional gender roles, norms, and stereotypes were perceived and experienced by both women and men, but with different consequences. From this broader theme emerged sub-themes related to the challenges faced by women (e.g. perceived negatively for displaying leadership behaviours); the OR as a male-dominated environment; differences in interactions or behaviours depending on the team gender composition; the role of intersecting social identities (e.g. young, racialized, woman, nurse); and perceptions of how the influence of gender in the OR may change.  Interactions and behaviours among interprofessional OR teams are shaped by gender and its intersection with additional social identity factors. This suggests that OR team composition and social context are critical to consider when designing teamwork interventions in order to accurately reflect the gendered reality of the OR experienced by providers in clinical practice.

Ashley Jennifer Shalmoni, York University

The Underrepresentation of Women in STEM Fields: Advocating for Gender Analysis

Although in recent years we have seen an increase in the number of women working in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, women continue to be underrepresented and face on-going barriers to paid employment in these fields. Despite the seeming neutrality of these areas of knowledge, the lack of women’s voices is evident in technological innovations and theorizing and require intervention. This paper examines barriers, gender roles, and women’s position within STEM fields through a historical approach and current literature review in order to showcase the urgency and need for gender analysis. This paper, specifically, attempts to showcase some of the current barriers women face in STEM fields, such as male anxiety, bias, sexism, sexual harassment, and hostile work environments.  Finally, this paper offers openings for further discussions on necessary interventions to bring about substantial changes in the STEM field beyond mere diversity to achieve inclusion and a more equitable environment.

Sepideh Borzoo, University of Calgary

Feminization of beauty work: Embodied and emotional labour of cosmetic saleswomen

Beauty is an industry that turns women both into consumers and workers. This industry as a globalized economy provides a context in which women enact beauty standards both on themselves and others. The women recruited into low-paying jobs selling cosmetics are crucial to the functioning of the beauty economy. This proposal is feminist ethnographic research on female-dominated and gendered settings of cosmetic stores in Canada. Building on the notions of body labour and emotional work, my research will compare women’s work in different stores to examine how different organizational structures produce various forms of body and emotional labour in the process of selling cosmetics. I will conduct part of my research at cosmetic counters in department stores such as Walmart, Hudson Bay and Holt Renfrew. By choosing different kinds of department stores, i might be able to witness a class difference in the type of customer and correspondingly different types of service that workers are required to provide to attract customers. I will conduct another part of my research in small beauty shops that sell natural beauty products such as Loccitane, Neals, and the Body Shop. These different stores can provide various settings for studying how workers perform gender differently in their interactions with female customers and how the structure of each store affects gender performance. Focusing on cosmetic stores as feminized organizations, the purpose of this research is to examine how different aspects of labour (emotional/aesthetic/body labour) in cosmetic stores contribute to the reinforcement of the gendered structure of cosmetic stores, which aspects of the service delivered (emotional, embodied, or aesthetic) most affect participants’ experiences, and how these aspects contribute to the maintenance of the gendered organizations.

Joanna Ong, York University; Cary Wu, York University

Does being confident matter equally for women and men?

Being confident matters, but does it matter equally for men and women? Extending research on the gender gap in confidence, in this article we consider whether the return of being self-confident is also gendered. Analyzing data from Statistics Canada’s 2016 General Social Survey (N= 19,294), we find that not only are women less self-assured than men, the earning power of being confident is also less strong among women than men. The fact that being confident is rewarded unequally between genders demonstrates that social bias against women is one major source for women’s lack of confidence.

Laurent Wall, Bow Valley College

Work at any cost: The experiences of racialized newcomer women in Canadian labour markets

Canadian federal and provincial occupational health and safety laws are largely based on the internal responsibility system (IRS). The IRS is a self-regulation model, and a significant assumption of this system is that all workers have a voice in the workplace and should feel empowered to express it without fear of reprisal. The employee is recast as a rights baring individual, responsible for ensuring their own safety and equitable treatment by asking questions, making complaints, and legally pursuing their rights if they are violated. However, power imbalances inherent in the workplace as well as intersecting factors such as age, gender, language ability, and socio-economic status result in barriers to understanding and reporting workplace safety concerns and violations. Drawing on co-creation methodologies that included 27 interviews with racialized newcomer women with Canadian work experience, this paper discusses the implications of using the IRS as a regulatory model for work in Canada. Building on the conference theme of “Resisting Racism and Colonialism,” this paper explores the implications of relying on neoliberal regulatory models that disproportionally affects racialized newcomer womens ability to access safe and equitable workplaces.