Women in masculine jobs: Understanding resilience and social and cultural capital

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Why do some women prosper in traditionally male-dominated occupations and industries? In Australia less than 15% of women are engineers or serve in the armed forces, less than 10% are trade apprentices and a dismal 4% are pilots. Whilst recruiting and retaining women in these occupations and industries is paramount to reducing skills shortages, women are hard to attract into these jobs and even harder to retain. Research into the experience of women has found that women working in occupations traditionally considered to be masculine domains confront barriers that contribute to poor experience and to early departure. Many of these barriers are associated with masculine organisational cultures that do not offer flexibility, do not value female attributes, and associate females with having less ability or skill than males. Such belief systems, values and resultant organisational practices have been linked to social exclusion, isolation and gender management that are hard for women to sustain. Other significant problems women encounter come from the lack of ‘critical mass’ needed to provide support, mentoring, role models and leadership. It has also been found that women who enter environments considered to be ‘hyper masculine’ confront discrimination, harassment and violence. Therefore, it is vital to question how women do negotiate these barriers. This paper reports on an emerging study aimed to assess and analyse two areas that are fundamental to understanding why women recruited to these positions are retained and why they succeed in terms of longevity, personal and career satisfaction and in contributing productively to their workplaces and organisations. These are 1. Personal attributes and characteristics and 2. Social and cultural conditions. The research explores the nature and disposition of resilience, what it means in terms of its embodiment as a quality and as a coping mechanism. The paper we will reflect on our investigations into workplace cultures that foster resilience, particularly socio/cultural factors. We also examine social and cultural capital, capital brought by women into the organisational and work environments and capital available to them as members of a professional network and locational workplace setting. We investigated how the combination of personal characteristics and workplace cultures interact to support women to succeed personally and professionally in environments typically considered to be resistant to their inclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018
EventGender, Work and Organisation 10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference - Hyatt Regency Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 13 Jun 201816 Jun 2018
Conference number: 10th
https://www.mq.edu.au/about/events/view/gender-work-organisation-conference-2018/ (conference website)


ConferenceGender, Work and Organisation 10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference
Internet address


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