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Gendered organisational practice

About us

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.

Current areas of expertise

  • gendered working bodies
  • feminist organising
  • gender and sexuality

Contact us

Director of the Gendered Organisational Practice
Dr Nela Smolović Jones
GOP Research

Future events

Film discussion: The Associate

02 December 2022
4pm – 5pm
Open to GOP members

Link will be available closer to the date.

Navigating the corporate world can be a difficult endeavour when you are marginalised from power. Almost half a century ago, Marilyn Loden coined the phrase ‘glass ceiling’ to denote the difficulty of progressing up the seniority ladder that women face. Since then, we extended the metaphor to include the ‘glass floor’, ‘glass ladder’, ‘glass cliff’ - all to illustrate the many perils that women face in their careers. When women are also Black, the glass ceiling becomes particularly shatterproof while the floor, cliff and ladder rungs turn into dust.

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. However, it also invites us to think about the power of solidarity and creative resistance to challenge and change the status quo. Perhaps it also offers more?

Bring your notes and your favourite drink and let’s chat!

GOP Celebration

17-18 January 2023

What better way to begin the year than by celebrating our growing, global and heterogeneous GOP community, and by thinking about all the exciting directions we can take going forward. 

To mark the occasion, together with our special guest, we will be discussing the importance of creating and recording our own histories and writing from memory. And as if that wasn’t enough to fill your feminist boots, we will also showcase how we embody ‘Personal is Political’ in our gender research. 

Details to follow…Stay tuned! 

Past events

Workshops on ‘Writing about gender’ for PhD students and ECRs

Lesson 1: Journal writing basics (23/05/2022)

Tutor: Prof. Alison Pullen

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 theorises gaslighting as a way of interpreting gendered corruption in organisations, due to its elusive but pernicious nature. She will discuss 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.

Lesson 2: Developing theory from empirical research (15/06/2022)

Tutor: Prof. Alison Pullen

Yet women are not passive objects in such contexts. Gaslighting triggers embodied forms of struggle, where women resist and dispel gaslighting attempts while asserting democratic norms. The talk aims to provide rich insight into how corruption is enacted through the citing of patriarchal norms and how such norms are contested through the bodies of practitioners.

Lesson 3: Different styles of writing (12/09/2022)

Tutor: Prof. Alison Pullen

Lesson 4: Managing the review process  (10/10/2022)

Tutor: Prof. Alison Pullen

Talk: 'The air that we breathe’: Recognition, respiration and ambivalence (07/09/2022)

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).

Discussion: GaGa Euphoria (17/05/2022)

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"

Public talk: Streets, Struggles and Solidarities (08/03/2022)

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.

Solidarity across difference (08/03/2022)

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’?

Early pregnancy endings and the workplace (08/03/2022)

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.

International Women’s Day event: Solidarities at work (08/03/2022)

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.

Public talk: ‘Help! I’ve been historically overworked.’ (03/02/2022)

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.

Video discussion: Why women are paid less? Gender pay gap (16/12/2021)

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?

Breaking Bad: Challenging the heteronormative environment in the UK’s police and prisons (17/05/2021)

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.

International Workers’ Day public talk: Why work won’t love you back (12/04/2021)

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.

Workshop: Feminism and social movements (24/03/2021)

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.

International Women’s Day public talk: Politics of care (08/03/2021)

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.

Business Network Briefing: Why menopause is a workplace issue (09/02/2021)

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).

Roundtable discussion: Attacks on gender researchers and gender equality initiatives within organisations (04/12/2020)

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.

Our work

This is where people can find the latest publications on gender from our academics and gender research projects