Experiences from Academia Around the World
Edited by Saija Katila, Susan Meriläinen and Janne Tienari
Chapter 10: Making Sense of Gender: Self Reflections on the Creation of Plausible Accounts
Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills INTRODUCTION: MAKING RETROSPECTIVE SENSE OF GENDER RESEARCH In this chapter we reflect on twenty years of collaborative work in gender and organization studies. As we shall explain below, our research journey began with a more structuralist feminist focus and gradually shifted to a feminist post-structuralist lens, but one that is explored through our growing interest in sensemaking. Our most recent journey began very much at the turn of the century when we turned our attention to Karl Weick’s (1995) notion of organizational sensemaking as a potential heuristic for studying gender. In the process, we developed something we call critical sensemaking that allows us to focus on the power relations between sensemakers, and the contexts in which they are performed. However, in keeping with the sensemaking approach, we have also been drawn to the role of identity construction in the process of engaging in gender research. In this chapter we look back on the development of our various research projects, the turn towards sensemaking, and the role of identity construction. We conclude that critical sensemaking is a valuable heuristic for examining gender discrimination because it focuses on the situated nature of knowledge in a practical and positive way. A VIEW FROM THE MIDDLE To begin at the end or, more plausibly, the middle, we recently worked with Kathy Sanderson and Donna Boone Parsons, two of our PhD students, to complete a paper on Stewardesses for Women’s Rights (SFWR), a short-lived, highly successful but troubled...
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