Gender, Work and Organization
10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference
Sydney, 13-16 June 2018
Mind the gap: Gender, embodiment and identity in organizations
Generally, in the debate related to work and organization the human body is
considered and discussed as the site of the labour-force. However, there are other
layers of the body that deserve to be explored in-depth. Social scientists have
conceptualized body as a project individuals work on and alter as a means of identity
construction and reconstruction (Schouten, 1991; Shilling, 2003). Furthermore, body
has largely been treated as a medium that helps people explore and experience the
world (Meamber & Venkatesh, 1999). One’s perception of his or her body is
considered interdependent with social relationships and control factors that constrain
this perception of one’s body in conformity with socio-cultural ideals, models and
normative as well as moral accounts (Thompson & Hirschman, 1995). Construction
of body and the associated body image therefore embody a process of socialization
and are means of signifying one’s self-worth, status in the presentation of the self
and in social relationships and lifestyles, and exertion of control over one’s self
(Thompson & Hirschman, 1995).
In the feminist critique of the mind-body split and its dualistic counterparts:
male/female, culture/nature, public/private, human/animal, there is also an ambition
to counterbalance and transgress the dualistic thinking present in both scientific
explanations and disciplinary boundaries. The body has become a veritable hot spot,
marking itself as a boundary concept that forcefully disrupts established disciplinary
identities and fields of investigation. The body is also a locus where nature and
culture meet and it refuses to accommodate any easy distinction between these two
terms. Instead, the very presence of the body demands a radical rethinking of the
meaning of both nature and culture.
Bodies make themselves present at the very core of a range of different embodied
phenomena, such as emotions, desires, identity, and agency. Embodiment in its
most simple understandings means the lived experience of human beings, an
experience which always bridges “the mind” and “the body”, “the natural” and “the
cultural”. Embodied beings are never determined only by their material, or by their
social and cultural conditions, but at the same time they are never fully unbound or
completely elastic. The historical and spatial differences, changes and stabilities in
how bodies and embodiment are perceived and understood, provide insight into both
the potentials and constraints of future body theory.
This stream aims to foster a discussion about the mutual entanglement of gender,
embodiment and identity in organizations. The call is therefore directed to those who
want to explore the embodiment of gender from a broad range of different disciplines
and theoretical perspectives with the common aim of approaching the body both as a
site for transgressive encounters and as actively participating and shaping such
encounters. We invite theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions that
explore the lived embodiment of employees and managers – how gendered
embodiment affects bodily feelings and relational and organizational experiences at
work, and how the body constitutes an active medium of management and
organization. Contributions from different fields are welcomed. We also encourage
an interdisciplinary approach, acknowledging that gendered embodiment has
numerous intellectual roots and allies. The following issues are indicative, but not
exhaustive, of our field of focus:
- The lived embodiment and bodily experiences of people at work and in
- Individuals’ own embodied perceptions of their work environment and of
themselves within it; how far cognitive activities and knowledge work builds no
- How organisations marginalise qualities and aspects of embodiment
associated with women.
- The material circumstances that compel or constrain embodied gender
- The gendered division of labour and its relationship to embodiment as the
materiality of gender subjectivity.
- The bodily feelings and experiences that are spurred as individuals express or
hide their gender and as they interact with others.
- How various forms of transgender embodiment intersect with other forms of
bodily, socio-corporeal and socio-demographic difference, including race,
sexuality, age and (dis) ability.
- The social construction of transgender in the institutional arrangements of
organizations, industries and fields.
- The bodily techniques and practices that employees and managers mobilize
in expressing – or hiding- (trans) gender.
Papers from the stream will be selected for a special issue proposal of the Gender, Work
and Organization journal.
Abstract submissions should be a maximum of 500 words, single spaced, excluding references, headers, footers or track changes and submitted as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx files only). Submissions must include full author contact details, including first and last name, institutional affiliation, email and mailing address.
Abstract papers can be submitted independently of streams but may be assigned to them where appropriate. Authors whose abstract is accepted but does not fit into one of the agreed streams will be able to present their work in the General Paper Stream.
All abstracts papers submitted must adhere to the following naming convention: author first name + last name, stream name and short abstract title.
Authors may submit up to a maximum of two abstracts, a secondary abstract submission is optional. If you are submitting two papers, these must be uploaded as individual files and named clearly as per the naming convention outlined.
Individual presentations will be 30 minutes in total (20 minute talk + 10 minute Q&A).
Submissions are due by 5pm on Wednesday 15 November (AEST) and applicants will be notified on the outcome of their submission after Friday 1 December.
Click SUBMIT when you are ready to upload your submission.