You must be hard-nosed!: A gender analysis of excluding organizational cultures in a production environment
In international human rights law, the boundaries between legal discrimination and its more subtle forms, exclusion, are very vague and difficult to frame. This thesis examines the subtle intangible mechanisms leading to exclusion. The objective is to study different mechanisms of the exclusion of women in the organizational cultures in a production environment. The theoretical framework of this thesis deals with the concepts of gender and organizational culture and the methodology is a case study of a male dominated production plant in Sweden. The principal analytical framework is the theory by Dr. Rutherford where the constituents of the organization’s culture were studied in order to identify the mechanisms that contribute to exclusion. The empirical material consists of an observation, seven semi-structured explorative background interviews with key female and male employees working in the field of diversity, and eight semi-structured in-depth interviews with female and male operators and production leaders. The results show that organizational structure and culture have exclusionary implications for the employees. Although the informants did not experience exclusion based on gender on a personal level, a number of exclusionary mechanisms were revealed. The most prominent factors were identified in the sexualized language and overtly heterosexual culture which was accepted and normalized by both genders. The working environment was described as masculine, tough and naturally more suited to men, and the sexual jokes and banters proved to fulfill the function of preventing boredom and releasing tension. However, these same jargons and banters resulted in a subtle form of offensive behavior, ultimately affecting both genders. The female employees were also faced with the pressure to prove and justify their competence and skills. Furthermore, the study suggests that the gender composition has a direct and positive effect on the experiences of the employees where the existence of only one female in the working teams improved the group dynamics and softened the jargons. The conclusion of the study is that exclusionary mechanisms are embedded in the different areas of the organizational culture, and that real change should therefore include all the different organizational levels and the various aspects of the organizational culture.