Gendered organisational practice (GOP) is a research cluster that takes feminist solidarity as a starting point to create a space where feminists of any gender can share insights and knowledge from academic study and practice. This is because we recognise that feminist solidarity is a force for social change, through drawing on diversity of experiences in an inclusive and purposeful manner. However, we also acknowledge that the continued creep of neoliberal norms within organisations makes such endeavours more challenging in practice through eroding collective engagement and mutual care in favour of individualism and self-interest.
GOP was founded by a gender academic, Nela Smolović Jones, in August 2020, as a way of fostering collaboration and exchange between practitioners and academics globally, but also as a way to strengthen bonds between gender academics and activists within the university. The cluster aims to provide a hub for those interested in developing equality through their research but also for practitioners wanting to make their organisations more egalitarian and fairer places. The cluster focuses on areas of existing interest to OU academics, offering a forum for cross-fertilisation of research topics and the sharing of knowledge.
Research on solidarity building
Research on gendered corruption
Research on paid and unpaid work in the textile industry
Date: 06 December 2023
Time: 09:30 – 10:30 am GMT
Select this MS Teams link to join the talk (co-organised with Judith Butler reading group) open to all attendees.
In this talk, Professor Alison Pullen brings into dialogue recent discussions on feminist activism (Fotaki and Pullen, 2023; Bell et al., 2019; Calás and Smircich, 2023) and notions of the ‘good university’ (Connell, 2014) or ‘good business school’ (Rhodes and Pullen, 2023). Inspired by Butler’s questions: (2006: 49) ‘What allows us to encounter one another? What are the conditions of possibility for an international feminist coalition?’ Prof. Pullen offers some thoughts on how public and democratic business schools gain political agency through ‘gender’ working against the anti-gender movement recently articulated by Judith Butler (2023). Much relies on feminist alliances which involve struggles for recognition and the reconstitution of vulnerability, in Butler’s terms, as well as modes of reciprocity and interdependency.
Figure acknowledgements: Camilla Falsini mural on Instagram dedicated to feminist writer Christine De Pizan.
Date: 08 March 2024
Join the conference
Small-scale or wholescale, protests keep multiplying across the planet in efforts to resist widening inequalities, keep political institutions accountable and restore democracy. In response, some governments have taken legal and other measures to curb this right, silencing the voices of the marginalised, violently dispersing peaceful assemblies, making protesting nearly impossible. In this IWD mini conference we will explore such developments from a gendered perspective with our wonderful speakers:
Professor Cinzia Priola and Shafaq A. Chaudhry discuss the juxtaposition between gender justice and gender equality within Islamic feminism, through the empirical analysis of gender practices in Pakistani banks.
Nela Smolovic Jones was invited to speak on a panel at the We Invented the Weekend (WITW) festival in Manchester, organised by Hemingway Design, a partner of our Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures (REEF) research centre. The topic of the discussion was ‘Making work work for everyone’. Nela talked about work from a gendered perspective, exploring the relationship between paid and unpaid work, unequal wealth and power distribution between genders, and how this could be changed. Other contributors were MP and former shadow cabinet minister Rebecca Long-Bailey, HR practitioner Molly Costello and academic Dr Jill Ebrey. The festival took place at MediaCity and Salford Quays last Saturday and Sunday (3-4 June) with the BBC also among its supporters.
Professor Alessia Contu, Dr Jared Poole and Professor Maureen Scully from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, discussed how their School navigates establishing an inclusive culture that is integrated across university activities. At UoMB, there are plenty of coordinated activities to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through research, teaching, and service. The discussion focused on two of these activities: the constitution of the College of Management Committee on Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion, and the EDJI Lab, to reflect on the tensions and dilemmas faced in such work and to elaborate on ways forward.
The event was co-organised by GOP, FBL Athena Swan, the EDIA FBL.
Nela Smolović Jones was invited to deliver a public lecture in Montenegro. The lecture was hosted by the Women’s Rights Centre (WRC), a partner of our Gendered Organisational Practice research cluster, and the most reputable and successful organisation in the sphere of gender equality in the country. This well-attended knowledge exchange event on solidarity building through time, differences and challenges was based on Nela’s ongoing research on gender, democracy and work in the region. The talk particularly focused on community building within the context of ‘democratisation’, past and present, and the ways in which such a context bears on feminist practice.
Nela Smolović Jones was interviewed for a Montenegrin television programme, ‘Vikend on Gradska’, which aired on the public service broadcaster Gradska TV, about the Business School-based GOP, which she leads, and her collaborative work with the Women’s Rights Centre. The discussion focused on the wonderful work that our researchers at GOP do to enhance gender equality in organisations but also broader society. Activity discussed included: research on menopause, textile work, feminist organising through hospitality, as well as gender and sexuality. The interview also focused on the partnership between WRC and GOP and the learning on feminist democratic practice that is emerging from the collaboration.
Speaker: Dr Marjana Johansson
This talk starts from a personal and political project begun a few years ago on exploring and writing classed and gendered identities and histories. The project showed the power of sharing memories for (re)writing the self, and the role of the past as a source of knowledge. It led to an exploration of memory work as a feminist method for understanding the self as situated in historical and social relations, ultimately with an emancipatory goal. On this occasion of celebrating GOP, Marjana hopes to open up a conversation about what working with memories can do, and how they might inform organisational practices.
Speakers: Alessandra Fenu, Amna Sarwer, Theresa Parker and Vickie Williams
PhD projects can sometimes feel disembodied and out of sync with lived reality. Our PhD students will ‘ground’ their projects, linking them to gender issues that matter to them but, nevertheless, issues that matter to many. They will use a variety of evocative resources (textual and visual) to explore alternate temporalities and the implications for women astronauts (Alessandra), migrant BAME women working in care homes (Amna), women experiencing the menopause transition (Theresa) and women working with endometriosis (Vickie).
Navigating the corporate world can be a difficult endeavour when you are marginalised from power. The Associate paints many of these issues vividly, as the main character, Laurel Ayres, portrayed by the brilliant Whoopi Goldberg, navigates the ubiquitously male world of investment banking.
The film prompts us to think about the underhand ways in which patriarchal and racial norms operate through us and others, and the practices that we enact. Bring your notes and your favourite drink and let’s chat!
Speaker: Nela Smolović Jones
How does corruption adopt gendered guises and how do women combat it in practice?
From the basis of a 30-month ethnography, Nela discusses how the practice of gaslighting serves to preserve patriarchal socio-political and economic orders, facilitating the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of (predominantly) men. Gaslighting is therefore posited as the deployment of tactics to make women doubt their sanity and as a means of securing personal advantage.
As the Editor-in-Chief for Gender, Work and Organization, Prof. Alison Pullen delivered four master class workshops to PhD students on ‘Writing on gender for journals’. As a successful and globally recognised gender academic, she will also deliver a session to PhD students researching gender on her experiences of being a woman in academia.
Tutor: Prof. Alison Pullen
Speaker: Professor Melissa Tyler
Why are people so prone to division and destruction when we need one another to survive? This is a critical question in the wake of a global pandemic and the climate crisis. Thinking critically about the social relations of something as fundamental as breathing helps us to understand how our desire for recognition comes to be organized in ways that oppress and exploit us, but which also open up scope for rethinking how we live and work together. As recent and ongoing global events have shown us, our social positioning is such that if we are all vulnerable, we are by no means equally so. If COVID and the climate emergency have taught us anything, it is that ‘exposure is … a socially organized relation’ (Butler, 2020: 199).
This workshop explored the concepts of gender euphoria and gaga feminism. The former has been described by some trans people as the joy that they have felt when they first experience an unbounded sense of self. Gaga feminism, for Jack J Halberstam, is an attempt to open gender up from the limited and limiting cis-het binary and to celebrate other genders and gender identities. Gaga feminism is a call for feminists to be creative in how we understand and live our genders unlimited by the societal conventions and norms of patriarchy.
To paraphrase the Lady Gaga song 'Do what you want':
"You can't have my heart
And you won't use my mind but
Do what you want with your body"
In this special International Women’s Day event Professor Alison Pullen explored the street as a powerful democratic institution that challenges the gendered division of public and private spheres.
‘Street is a metaphor of the possibility of assembly but also a metaphor for the reality of discrimination. Public space is both ambivalent and open to possibility. Public space movements which reclaim the street such as Reclaim the Night is not just about the vital importance of physical security for feminized subjects but also about a material site for the political potential of the embodied collective living and working together in pursuit of the promise of equality. This is a question of the public expression and realization of solidarities and struggles across and within intersectional differences. The street is the public space not accounted for in the historical distinction between the public- masculine – and the private – feminine.
In contemporary times, in which many different groups of marginalized people need to continuously struggle for basic survival, justice and equality, practices of solidarity are paramount to create mutual commitments across different needs. But how can solidarity be practiced across such wide variety of experiences and standpoints without creating fragmentation or fortifying existing forms of domination and oppression? Taking inspiration from Black feminist and postcolonial conceptions of solidarity, Nela Smolovic Jones and Bontu Lucie Guschke discussed if solidarity can and should be forged around commonalities or particularities, considered how we can make difference productive for critique and action, and finally, where to draw a line when it comes to inclusivity and solidarity, or, to borrow from Mouffe, how to differentiate between ‘adversaries’ and ‘enemies’?
Although organization studies has an established and growing literature on the intersections between (post-)reproductive bodies and the workplace in the shape of research on menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, maternity and the menopause, it has paid almost no attention to terminations and miscarriages. Yet these experiences are extremely common and some women and transgender and non-conforming people will go through several miscarriages and/ or terminations during their working lives. As such we are committed to finding out more about what it is like to navigate an early pregnancy ending (defined as up to 24 weeks of completed gestation in the UK) whilst in paid employment of any kind, as well as paying close attention to differences like gender, ethnicity, disability and age.
Throughout history, feminists have been forging solidarity to disrupt sites of power and privilege, redraw the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion and access to resources. Following in their footsteps, we are moving the conversation and practices further. This one-day online interdisciplinary conference brings together diverse voices on the complexities, complications, and configurations of working with and across intersections and the dilemmas that feminist activism and praxis present. The conference aims to extend conversations on existing challenges and opportunities while also giving rise to new possibilities.
A wide variety of academics and practitioners came together to discuss the importance of solidarities in an inclusive and purposeful manner.
As we’re pushing through yet another industrial revolution, exacerbated by the pandemic and underpinned by technology, we are leaving a trail of weary women’s bodies behind us – Caryatids of capitalist production. So how can we make sense of this present moment and what can we do to make life better for the working women of the world?
In this GOP event, leading scholar of work and social reproduction Sue Ferguson helped us make sense of these questions by guiding us through more than two centuries’ worth of theorising about women’s unpaid labour, as well as their relationship to waged labour.
To warm-up for the Sue Ferguson’s talk, GOP members met to discuss the gender pay gap. As we are busying ourselves with meeting various deadlines, the holidays are slowly sneaking up on us. That time of the year when we are prompted to examine our generosity by reaching into our purses to buy presents, cook for the extended family, clean after them… listen to cousin Bob’s ‘political correctness gone mad’ speech… You know, the usual holiday joy. Holidays are also times to kick back, celebrate and enjoy…But then again, just like Peggy Lee in 1953, we also can’t help but wonder: Who’s Gonna Pay the Check?
GOP marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia with this special event where Dr Matthew Jones and Dr Saoirse O’Shea presented their research about the lived experiences of transgender and non-binary prisoners in England and Wales, as well as the ways in which lesbian, gay and bisexual police officers proactively challenge the occupational culture of policing from engaged and insightful researchers with unique access to these contexts.
The talk was delivered by Sarah Jaffe, an insightful journalist whose writing on labour has engaged the readership of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation and the numerous other media outlets. However, and fortunately for those of us who enjoy reading and thinking about the nature of work, Sarah has recently decided to amalgamate her talent for writing, her methodical approach to research and her stubborn dedication to justice and equality into the book Necessary Trouble and the book we discussed at this event called Work won’t love you back: How devotion to our jobs keeps us exploited, exhausted and alone.
The OU’s Gendered Organisational Practice research cluster (GOP) and the Gender, Work and Organization journal (GWO) hosted a joint workshop on feminism and social movements. The workshop’s aim was to develop knowledge on how women can enhance social movements as vehicles for attaining equality, ahead of a special issue on the same topic for GWO.
This workshop was organised by the editors of the special issue (Nela Smolović Jones; Alison Pullen; Marjana Johansson; and Katarina Giritli-Nygren) to help researchers develop their ideas into papers for submission to the GWO special issue under the same name.
Prof. Emerita Segal made the case for a politics of care – for care to be at the heart of all aspects of contemporary life. In her talk, Lynne invited us to reimagine the role of care in our everyday lives, urging us to make it the organising principle in every dimension and at every scale of life. We are all dependent on each other, and only by nurturing these interdependencies can we cultivate a world in which each and every one of us can not only live but thrive.
Prof. Jo Brewis presented on why menopause is a workplace issue to an audience of predominantly HR practitoners, managers and employers. With her research, Jo aims to advance organisational practice so that workplaces are more responsive to people’s needs and more embracing of diverse experiences. Within this broad area, Jo has conducted prominent and impactful research on menopause, one part of which currently represents the most comprehensive study on menopause in the workplace. Together with her research team, she also wrote a commissioned government report, The effects of menopause transition on women's economic participation in the UK (2017).
This event was hosted by Stefanie Ruel and Nela Smolović Jones. It came about as a response to the increasing hostility towards women and members of the LGBT+ community during the pandemic but also, more broadly, amidst the rise of far-right politics globally, which contributes to an erosion of gender equality and women’s rights.
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