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What's New in New Forms of Organizing? On the Construction of Gender in Project‐Based Work

Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff ()

Journal of Management Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 4, 841-866

Abstract: abstract In several industries, projects are now the normal form of work for individuals. The consequences of project work have not so far been subject to critical inquiry, however. This implies inquiry not only on how people handle project work at work, it also means inquiring into how they live their lives when working by projects. In this paper, we study this from a constructionist gender perspective, in which project work is seen as an ongoing construction of patterns of femininity and masculinity in society. The aim of the paper is to contribute to an understanding of how project work is related to the ongoing construction of femininity and masculinity in the work and lives of human beings. From a narrative study of individuals in the same project team in an IT‐consultancy company, we discuss masculinization and femininization in project‐based work. It appears that current project work practices imply reproduction of masculinities such as rationality, efficiency, control, devotion to work etc, while femininization is instead found in the rhetoric of the organizational context and the expectations on newly recruited women. The organization was in the process of femininization through rhetoric on ‘family friendliness’, but everyday life for consultants was not spent at the organization but in project teams in the customers' offices. Projects are special in the sense that they are clearly delimited episodes of work in which it is possible to apply entirely different norms than ‘outside’ the project – which makes the tendency to reproduce traditional masculinities even stronger.

Date: 2006
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