Gender relations and identity: Masculinities and femininities at work in an advertising agency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The paper explores gender relations and gender identity, based upon an ethnography of a Swedish advertising agency. The organization is of special interest as it has a strong gender division of labor, where men hold all senior posts, at the same time as creative advertising work seems to have much more similarity with what gender studies describe as "femininity" rather than with forms of "masculinity." The paper discusses how gender is constructed in an organizational context. Emphasis on workplace sexuality is related to identity work of men in response to the highly ambiguous and contested context of advertising work. Tendencies toward the "femininization" of the work and client relationships put some strain on (gender) identity for men, triggering a structuring of gender relations and interaction at the workplace to restore feelings of masculinity. The paper problematizes ideas of masculinities and femininities and argues for a rethinking of their roles in nonbureaucratic organizations. Also assumptions about a close connection between domination of masculinity and of males are critically discussed.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration

Keywords

  • advertising agencies, gender , femininity , masculinity , organization , sexuality , work
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-1005
JournalHuman Relations
Volume51
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes