Competence and Gender Issues at Work
Chapter 7: Writing Out Gender
Modern managers, technical experts and consultants have become the ‘organic intellectuals’ of our own time. Their performance management ‘systems’ determine what is ‘normal’ in organisational life. Competence frameworks were introduced by consultants, communicated through the organisational system to managers, and not surprisingly, the reasons for introducing these frameworks were rarely questioned. Where there was debate, this was around the technical nature of the frameworks. This chapter digs deeper into the competence processes to examine what their likely impact is to be on women managers. Two aspects of the competence frameworks are questioned here. First, do the practices of competence build in disadvantage at a structural level for women who carry the burden of domestic duties, and if so, how? And second, to what extent do the competence frameworks favour directive over nurturing behaviours? In the first part the practices associated with competence (drawing up the competence frameworks and subsequent practices of assessment and appraisal) are examined to see what the implications are here for those people (mostly women) who may use a predominance of nurturing behaviours, and who may also have structural constraints of caring for children, the old or the sick. In the second part, I analyse the competence frameworks themselves to see whether the actual behaviours outlined reflect directive or nurturing behaviours. 7.1 THE PRACTICES In order to see how women may be disadvantaged through the ‘objective’ practices of competence, we need to see where ‘discursive closure’ may be taking place – one way of this is to examine...
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