Women in male-dominated occupations: is resilience a viable or achievable quality?

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Abstract

What is resilience in the context of surviving work environments where barriers as significant as gender violence and career discrimination commonly exist? In such a context, is resilience an individual responsibility? How can organisations contribute to and support learned resilience? This conceptual paper explores how women manage, survive and thrive in the non-traditional employment sectors of aviation, specifically pilots, the skilled trades (i.e. carpentry, welding, plumbing) and the military. Women working in male-dominated industries face opposition, resistance and need to manage their gender in hegemonic masculine work cultures. The well-known and well-rehearsed barriers include exclusion, segregation, marginalisation, discrimination, harassment and other forms of social closure. How women might overcome the barriers in order to achieve success is not as well understood. We argue that whilst individual resilience is a necessary element in understanding how women in non-traditional roles survive, thrive and develop enduring careers, it is not sufficient. Rather it is necessary to acknowledge the importance of organisational and/or systemic elements of resilience; where resilience is enacted, relationally, in the interaction between the organisation and the individual. We conclude that organisations need to be flexible and transformative, in and of themselves to support long term cultural change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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