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Discourse or reality

Discourse or reality 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Equality Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

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References (52)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2040-7149
DOI
10.1108/02610151011028840
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

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.

Journal

Equality Diversity and Inclusion: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 26, 2010

Keywords: Gender; Organizations; Flexible working hours; Women; Scientists; France

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