Doing gender in the 'new office'

Hirst, Alison and Schwabenland, Christina (2017) Doing gender in the 'new office'. Gender, Work and Organization. ISSN 0968-6673 (Accepted)

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Abstract

Our paper investigates how gender is performed in the context of an office setting designed to promote intensive, fluid networking. We draw on an ethnographically-oriented study of the move of staff into a new office building constructed primarily from glass, and incorporating open plan offices, diverse collective areas and walking routes. Although the designers aimed to invoke changes in the behaviour of all staff, they conceptualized these changes in masculine terms. We therefore analyse the gender norms materialized by the workspaces of the ‘new office' and how women responded to these. We suggest that the new office encourages an image of the ideal worker which brings together ways of acting and interacting that have been characterised as both masculine and feminine – active movement and spontaneous encounters, but also intensive face-to-face interaction and deep relationship-building. Women are driven into this mode of working in an uncompromising, almost aggressive way, but a straightforward gender-based dynamic does not emerge in their responses, with conventional gender characteristics being reshuffled and recombined.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: gender, women, new offices, spatial relationships, organizational space
Faculty: Lord Ashcroft International Business School
Depositing User: Dr Alison Hirst
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 14:43
Last Modified: 23 May 2017 14:43
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/701784

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