Six of one and half a dozen of the other: The gender subtext of taylorism and team-based work structures
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SourceGender, Work and Organization, 5, 1, (1998), pp. 5-18
Article / Letter to editor
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Personeelsmanagement - t/m 2007
Sociale Bedrijfskunde - t/m 2007
Gender, Work and Organization
This article analyses gendering processes in two distinct models of work organization. It is a widespread belief that, compared to hierarchical (Tayloristic) organizations, team-based work offers opportunities for a high quality of working life to a broader range of employees, both men and women. Our research, however, suggests that gender inequality is (re)produced in both settings and results from the so-called gender subtext. The gender subtext is the set of often concealed power-based processes (re)producing gender distinction in social practices through organizational and individual arrangements. We draw a comparison between the gender subtext of Tayloristic and team-based work organizations through a theoretical analysis, illustrated by empirical data concerning the functioning of the gender subtext in organizations in the Dutch banking sector. Taylorism and team-based work differ in their conceptualization of organization and job design, but, when it comes to the gender subtext, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other. We argue that in both approaches a gender subtext contributes to the emergence of different but gendered notions of the ‘disembodied worker’. In both cases the notion of the abstract worker is implicitly loaded with masculine connotations. This gender bias is supported by two factors influencing the gendering of jobs: the gender connotations of care responsibilities and of qualification profiles. These implicit connotations produce and reinforce unequal opportunities for men and women to get highly qualified or management jobs. Our research, therefore, questions the self-evidence of stating that team-based work will offer opportunities for a higher quality of working life for women.
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