Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of flexible working arrangements FWAs and particularly reduced hours working arrangements on a Dual Agenda of gender equity and workplace effectiveness, in a case study organization employing a relatively high proportion of women scientists.Designmethodologyapproach Indepth interviews based on the initial stages of collaborative interactive action research CIAR are used within a casestudy approach. The interviews explored working practices, the assumptions underpinning them and their unintended consequences.Findings The main form of FWA used in the organization, four days a week, is double edged and complex in its effects. It supports mothers, but at a cost because of gendered assumptions. Despite a commitment to flexibility and worklife balance, the gendered construction of the ideal worker and ideas of competence conflated with hegemonic masculinity, remain powerful. This, together with a prevalent good mother ideology, undermines both gender equity and workplace effectiveness.Practical implications This paper is of value to both researchers and policy makers. It shows that highly developed worklife balance or flexible working polices are not sufficient to enhance gender equity and points to the importance of surfacing and challenging gender assumptions in science, engineering and technology. It emphasizes the need to move forward from policy to practice.Originalityvalue This paper contributes to a growing body of work using initial stages of the CIAR methodology and showcases the theoretical insights gained by such an approach.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 26, 2010
Keywords: Gender; Organizations; Flexible working hours; Women; Scientists; France
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