doing gender and inequalities at work

Exploring the complexities of how gender is done in the workplace is a fundamental aspect of my research agenda. My research seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which gender shapes the professional experiences of individuals and the organization of workplace activities.

My PhD (2017) specifically focused on this topic through ethnographic research on two contrasting occupational groups: butchers and florists. I aimed to describe and analyze the ways in which gender becomes relevant to the workers and their clients during occupational interactions in the workplace. The thesis made an original contribution to the analysis of the processes of (de-)gendering professional activities and enhanced our understanding of the sociological aspects of these two little-studied occupations. By utilizing the conceptual framework of the “gender order”, I sought to move beyond the debate between materialist and interactionist or pragmatist conceptualizations of gender.

“By combining a phenomenological and a more structural perspective, our integrative framework enables us to consider gender as both done in situ and as shared practical knowledge that impacts how individuals think and act. We argue that while gender is being done in and through interaction, doing tends to fit into a standard format of activity and reasoning that informs our actions (Goffman, 1981). If the gender order is locally accomplished, it goes beyond its presence here and now (Schütz, 1970; Schütz & Luckmann, 1973), and if gender is actualized on an individual level, it acts to constrain this individual agency at the structural level.” (Zinn & Hofmeister, 2022).  

Abstract of my Dissertation:

Butcher and Florist Occupations: An Ethnography of Gender at Work

Located at the intersection of the gender studies and the sociology of occupational groups, this thesis aims to explore when and how gender becomes a constituent part of workplace activities for two contrasting occupational groups: butchers and florists. Based on ethnographic fieldwork that focusses on the phenomenal organization of activities, it seeks to account for the ways in which gender becomes relevant to these professionals and their clients in the course of occupational interactions. It shows that the members of a statistically gender segregated occupation don’t always mobilize gender in the same way and don’t necessarily invest it with the same operative meaning. Therefore, even in contexts marked by profound gender asymmetries, it is important not to assume a constant relevance of gender and sex categories. Rather, it should be recognized that the gendered practices are likely to be quite specific to the occupational context under study. By focusing on the effects of the situation on the ways in which individuals “do gender”, this thesis makes an original contribution to the analysis of the processes of (de-)gendering professional activities. Finally, by studying the organization and professional experiences of butchers and florists, this thesis enhances our sociological reading of two occupations that have been little studied to date.