Gender and the Dysfunctional Workplace
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Gender and the Dysfunctional Workplace

Edited by Suzy Fox and Terri R. Lituchy

Dysfunction in the workplace, like a bully culture, affects women and men differently. This book represents a broad spectrum of disciplines including law, management, communications, human resource management and industrial/organizational psychology and offers integrative, cross-disciplinary inquiries into the many roles gender plays in organizational dysfunction. The authors provoke new questions and new streams of research, with the ultimate goal of contributing to healthier workplaces for men and women alike.
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Chapter 4: Priming, Painting, Peeling, and Polishing: Constructing and Deconstructing the Woman-Bullying-Woman Identity at Work

Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Elizabeth A. Dickinson and Karen A. Foss


JOBNAME: Fox & Lituchy PAGE: 1 SESS: 3 OUTPUT: Wed Mar 21 09:51:09 2012 4. Priming, painting, peeling, and polishing: constructing and deconstructing the woman-bullyingwoman identity at work Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Elizabeth A. Dickinson and Karen A. Foss Women bully other women at work more than twice as often as they target men, a pattern that has yet to be fully explored or theorized in adult bullying research. Popular media, on the other hand, are keen to point out the pattern. Two recent media reports, “Women bullies often target other women” (Wild and Brady, 2009) and “Backlash: women bullying women at work”(Meese, 2009), focus on women’s abuse of other women at work. At least in the United States, in over 70 percent of the female-bully cases, they target women (Namie, 2007b). The gendered pattern is what “Backlash” called “the pink elephant in the room.” Media attention marks an increased interest in women bullying women, and research data provides evidence of this trend. The purpose of this chapter is to theorize this gender-based pattern and suggest moves toward more constructive organizing. To do this we unmask the hidden forces that underlie women-bullying-women (WBW), encourage women’s critical examination of what they are doing and why, and underscore the unintended consequences of WBW. We talk about this same-sex pattern by metaphorically framing it as a structure within the larger social construction of professional identity. In positing a metaphoric framework involving priming, painting, peeling, and polishing, we intend to open up the dialogue...

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