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Thursday, December 07, 2006

It Takes a Real Man...To Not Act So Much Like One?


Here's an interesting article posted on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge website about two female professors who studied the concept of masculinity in the workplace....as it occurs on deep-water oil platforms (considered one of the most hazardous jobs out there).

While previous studies had pointed towards the fact that men often feel they must display a macho attitude (as typified by taking risks or having less regard for their own well-being) the more dangerous their workplace is, Professor Robin Ely found that oil platform workers tended to strive more for reliability and safety, even at the risk of seeming "not as masculine." From the article:

Rather than seeking to prove how tough, proficient, and cool-headed they were, as was typical of men in other dangerous workplaces, platform workers purposefully made themselves vulnerable in order to perform their jobs more safely and effectively: They readily acknowledged their physical limitations, publicly admitted their mistakes so they could learn from them, and openly attended to their own and others' feelings.

The article provides a great insight on how gender is influenced (and influences) the workplace, and how this could relate to women as well as less dangerous, office-type jobs.

Could the stereotype of the big, burly, "manly" construction worker finally be going the way of the "pretty, young secretary" image? More research is definitely called for....

DG

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