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Individualization and Equality: Women’s careers and organizational form

James Wickham, Gráinne Collins,Lidia Greco and Josephine Browne
IIIS Discussion Paper No. 85 Some feminist writings have claimed that ‘bureaucracy’ is inherently ‘patriarchal’. This paper challenges this argument by comparing the experience of women in Ireland in a state sector organization and in a cluster of software firms. While the bureaucratic state company has been reformed to incorporate equal opportunities, in the individualised or ‘marketized’ software companies women’s progress is at the whim of individual managers and motherhood and a career are largely incompatible. If bureaucratic organizations can be reformed in this way, it cannot be claimed that there is any inherent link between bureaucracy and patriarchy. Instead organizations can be either bureaucratic or marketized, and either patriarchal or woman-friendly. These are two separate dimensions which change independently of each other. On this basis the paper
suggests that the contemporary ‘remasculinization’ of management occurs because earlier reforms in bureaucratic organizations are now being eroded.

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).