The support paradox: Overcoming dilemmas in gender equality programs
SourceScandinavian Journal of Management, 30, 2, (2014), pp. 163-174
Article / Letter to editor
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Scandinavian Journal of Management
This paper revolves around ambivalent discourses surrounding gender equality policies and interventions in organizations. On the one hand, these equality policies are perceived as necessary in order to create more opportunities for upward career mobility for women. On the other hand, both men and women argue against these policies due to issues of reverse discrimination and quality loss that they raise. For a Dutch Funding Organization, this resulted in a dilemma; with gender equality on the one hand, and merit and individual advancement on the other. The support paradox provides a discursive tool to counter this dilemma that finds its roots in a strong belief in the meritocracy and a blindness for the genderedness of the meritocracy and academic careers. By reframing and illustrating this paradox, this study shows that the support that men often receive in their academic careers tends to be taken for granted, while women are expected to advance on their own in order to prove that they are sufficiently qualified. We will argue that it is theoretically interesting and politically important to frame the “getting help” dilemma in terms of a paradox
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