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Gender in Organizations

Gender in Organizations

Are Men Allies or Adversaries to Women’s Career Advancement?

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Debra A. Major

Diversifying the workforce is becoming increasingly important, with gender equality being a central feature of overall equality. Men seem to be part of the problem and a necessary part of the solution. This collection ties these themes together in the context of talent management and organizational effectiveness.

Chapter 5: Relations, emotions and differences: re-gendering emotional labour in the context of men doing care

Ruth Simpson

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, gender and management, organisational behaviour


While there has been considerable work exploring how women perform emotional labour (e.g., Bolton and Boyd, 2003; Bolton, 2007), there has been less work on how men perform such ëcaringí roles. Men in these contexts can face special difficulties, as ëfeminineí discourses of service and care, which often carry a devalued status, collide with dominant conceptions of masculinity, and as organizational interactions and practices potentially reflect non-masculine ways of working. In this respect, as Sargent (2001) notes, men can be in a ëdouble bindí. If they perform masculinity through, for example, authoritarianism, emotional distance and control, their ëcaring skillsí are questioned; if they perform femininity through nurturance and care, their masculinity and their sexuality are called to account. How do men manage these potential conflicts? How do men perform emotional labour so as to align meanings around care and masculinity and negotiate the often devalued status of such work? This chapter takes an explicitly gendered approach to consider how male nurses and primary (elementary) school teachers perceive and perform emotional labour and how they manage inherent conflicts in these gender-atypical roles. In this respect, the chapter is influenced by the work of both West and Zimmerman (2002) and Butler (1990), who argue that gender and gender differences are produced in everyday interactions and contexts in accordance with normative and localized conceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man.

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