Professor Patricia Lewis
Patricia has sought to make visible the way in which organisations, leaders & entrepreneurs are subject to and constituted by gendered cultural norms and how such constitution contributes to inequality.
Her research emerges from a fascination with the dynamic durability of inequality based on gender and other forms of difference and she has led several research agendas in the gender and organisation studies field to build understanding of its changing form. This includes work on the gendered nature of entrepreneurship manifest in its inherent masculinity, the emergence of feminised entrepreneurship, the development of the concept of entrepreneurial femininity and the identification of the mumpreneur as an enterprise character.
Google Scholar designated her 2006 paper on the masculine norm published in Gender, Work & Organization as a classic paper in Gender Studies, ranked no. 5 in the top 10 cited papers published in 2006. Her current work on postfeminism is influencing the intellectual agenda of the gender and organizations field acting as a catalyst for a developing stream of research in the area. Between 2015 and 2018, she was involved in the organisation of an ESRC seminar series entitled Exploring Gendered Inclusion in Contemporary Organizations with colleagues from Cranfield University, Middlesex University and the University of Essex.
Connected to this project, she was the lead editor of a Special Issue of Gender, Work & Organization on the subject of Moderate Feminism(s), published in August 2019. The Leverhulme Trust recently awarded her a two-year Research Fellowship that commenced in January 2019. This is supporting completion of a project on leadership in the City of London entitled Postfeminism in the City. An international panel of gender scholars appointed her Joint-Editor-in-Chief of Gender, Work & Organization in January 2018 and she is hosting the 11th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Gender, Work & Organization Conference at the University of Kent Canterbury campus 24th to 26th June 2020.
Patricia’s research is located in the broad area of gender and organisation studies.
Patricia has published her work in a range of journals including:
- Organization Studies
- Gender, Work & Organization
- Human Relations
- International Journal of Management Reviews
- British Journal of Management
- Journal of Business Ethics.
Her most recently published book (edited with Yvonne Benschop and Ruth Simpson) is Postfeminism and Organization, Routledge.
As a Leverhulme Research Fellow, Patricia is currently on leave from teaching. Normally, she convenes the following modules:
- CB312 Introduction to Management
- CB678 Contemporary Management Challenges
- CB9033 Qualitative Research Methods
- Arifa Syed: Unpacking the ‘Doctor-Bride’ phenomenon and its Impact on Female Doctors in Pakistan and the UK: A Comparative Analysis (First Supervisor)
- Nayika Kamales: Gendered Networks in a Thai State Enterprise (First Supervisor)
- Joel Montgomery: Exploring the Motivation to Act Politically within Leadership Roles (Second Supervisor)
- Muntaser Melhem: Exploring Organizational Justice Issues in Relation to Performance Measurement and Reward Systems (Third Supervisor)
- Hyun Jeon Oh: Institutional Logics, Cultural Identity and Internationalisation of Art Films: A Comparative Analysis of France and Korea (Second Supervisor)
- Faleh Albouss: Postfeminism and Middle Eastern Female Academics in UK Universities: A Discursive Analysis (First Supervisor)
- Mathew Todres: What Makes Social Enterprise 'Social' (First Supervisor)
- Muntaha Bani Hani: Women's Work Engagement in Jordan (Second Supervisor)
Showing 50 of 100 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.
Pullen, A., Rodriguez, J. and Lewis, P. eds. (2017). Celebrating Joan Acker. Gender, Work & Organization.
Lewis, P., Adamson, M., Biese, I. and Kelan, E. eds. (2016). Exploring the Emergence of Moderate Feminism(s) in Contemporary Organizations. Gender Work & Organization [Online]. Available at: https://www.wiley.com.This special issue seeks to investigate the complexities and complications attached to the public embracing of (some) feminist norms. While the apparent revival of feminism in the public sphere has been viewed optimistically, there has also been consternation at the selective take-up and restrained (or exploitative) implementation of feminist principles such as empowerment, choice and agency (Eisenstein, 2009). The selective take-up of feminist principles has been referred to by commentators such as Dean (2010) as the domestication of feminism. This process of domestication is defined as ‘…the explicit or implicit affirmation of a safe unthreatening form of feminism….whilst at the same time curtailing its more radical, political dimensions’ (Dean, 2010: 391). A good example of such domestication is the replacement of liberal feminism with neoliberal feminism. While both of these forms of feminism place an emphasis on individual empowerment, the former also includes a critique of systemic male dominance manifest in the culture of business, while the latter is devoid of such analysis. Thus within a context of domestication, feminist perspectives which are characterized by a critical collective ethos with an emphasis on shared rights as emblematic of feminist activity, are at best less favoured at worst cast aside in favour of a more moderate feminism, typified by an emphasis on the empowerment of individual women (Dean, 2010). Here, the onus for the achievement of equality is put on each individual female subject such that the ‘solution’ for gender issues is sought internally and not understood in terms of the reformation of external structures (Baker, 2010; Rottenberg, 2014). Different labels have been attached to the phenomenon of moderate feminism(s), including neoliberal feminism (Rottenberg, 2014), referred to above; choice feminism (Kirkpatrick, 2010); market feminism (Kantola & Squires, 2012); transnational business feminism (Roberts, 2015) and empowerment feminism (Banet-Weiser, 2015). Despite the variation in labels, central to all versions of moderate feminism is the individuated female subject who recognizes the persistence of gender inequalities but perceives the solution to inequality as dependent on individual action ‘…transforming collective liberation based upon a commitment to the common good into a limited form of individuated self-care’ (Rottenberg, 2014: 433). Thus moderate feminism(s) are exemplified by an implicit or explicit distancing from a broader critique of gendered inequalities. In doing this, the onus for the achievement of equality is placed on each individual woman with female success understood as being dependent on women’s own personal initiative and therefore interpreting the securing of gender parity as something which is internally referential as opposed to externally structured (Baker, 2010). While other disciplinary fields such as Cultural Studies and International Relations and Political Science have interrogated this emerging form of feminism in all its variations, less attention has been given to the notion of moderate feminism(s) within Gender and Organization Studies (GOS) and as such this special issue represents a first in the field.
Lewis, P., Adamson, M., Biese, I. and Kelan, E. (2019). Introduction to Special Issue: Exploring the Emergence of Moderate Feminism(s) in Contemporary Organizations. Gender, Work & Organization [Online]:1063-1072. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12407.Drawing on the lens of postfeminism, the emergence of moderate forms of feminism in organizational contexts is explored. Two versions of postfeminism are depicted - the first version which highlights the emphasis placed on the "pastness" of feminism and how as a form of thought and action it is understood as obsolete. The claim of a repudiation of feminism is a central characteristic of early interpretations of postfeminism and presented as a defining feature of this discursive formation. The second version makes visible a shift in postfeminism's narrative which rejects the suggestion that there has been a disavowal of feminism, claiming instead that it has been rehabilitated as 'cool' and 'progressive'. The form of feminism which is treated as valuable is one which is based on the liberal tenets of individualism with an emphasis on individual agency and the rejection of collective action. An instrumental and personalised form of feminism is privileged with feminist action transformed into '...an inner drive, a determination to meet self-directed goals' (McRobbie, 2015: 12). This discussion presents the context for the nine papers contained in the special issue all of which provoke discussion about the presence of feminism(s) in contemporary organizations.
Simpson, R., Kumra, S., Lewis, P. and Rumens, N. (2019). Towards a Performative Understanding of Deservingness: Merit, Gender and the BBC Pay Dispute. Gender, Work & Organization [Online]. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12397.Drawing largely on a high profile case of unequal pay at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) as an illustrative example, this conceptual paper considers differences and interrelationships between merit and deservingness, where the latter captures how, through appropriate performances, merit is given recognition and value. We propose a performative understanding of deservingness that highlights its gendered and embodied dimensions. Informed by Judith Butler’s account of gender performativity, we show that, while merit is conventionally conceptualized as a relatively fixed set of attributes (qualifications, skill) ‘attached’ to the individual, deservingness captures how, in gendered terms, value and recognition are both claimed and conferred. As we argue, a gendered, deserving subject does not pre-exist but is performatively constituted through embodied practices and performances of what is seen as worthy in a particular time and place.
Pullen, A., Lewis, P. and Ozkazanc?Pan, B. (2019). A critical moment: 25 years of Gender, Work and Organization. Gender, Work & Organization [Online] 26:1-8. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12335.Anniversary editorial
Lewis, P., Ozkazanc-Pan, B. and Pullen, A. (2018). Gender, Work and Organization developments in 2018. Gender, Work & Organization [Online] 25:437-442. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12301.
Lewis, P. and Pullen, A. (2018). Gender, Work and Organization in 2018. Gender, Work & Organization [Online] 25:107-109. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12248.
Lewis, P. (2017). Visibly Different from the Academic Norm: An Appreciation of the Scholarship and Friendship of Professor Ruth Simpson. Gender in Management: An International Journal [Online] 32:476-487. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-05-2017-0057.Purpose - Professor Ruth Simpson has been a key contributor to the field of Gender and Organization Studies (GOS) over the past 25 years. She has influenced debates on women in management, the gender of management education, masculinity and management and the “doing” of gender in organizational life. In this paper I review our joint work – informed by a poststructuralist feminist perspective – which considers the complex struggles around normativity in relation to management and entrepreneurship.
Design/Methodology/approach – This review is based on a consideration of four pieces of work completed between 2005 and 2012 including (Simpson and Lewis, 2005, 2007) and (Lewis and Simpson, 2010, 2012)
Findings - Drawing on the concepts of voice and visibility, the research examines how the ability to exemplify the norm in relation to management and entrepreneurship must be constantly secured and how processes of inclusion and exclusion in relation to the norm are characterised by relentless agitation and turmoil.
Originality/value – We develop the conceptual framework of the (In)visibility Vortex as a means of connecting the individual to organizational processes, discourses and cultural norms.
Lewis, P., Benschop, Y. and Simpson, R. (2017). Postfeminism, Gender and Organization. Gender, Work and Organization [Online] 24:213-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12175.
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2016). Hakim Revisited: Preference, Choice and the Postfeminist Gender Regime. Gender Work and Organization [Online] 24:115-133. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12150.Abstract
We revisit Hakim’s influential preference theory to demonstrate how it is both reflective of postfeminism and generative of its values and practices. We differentiate between two interpretations of postfeminism – first a surface level “successful but obsolete” version articulated by Hakim and a second, multi-layered account of postfeminism as a discursive formation connected to a set of discourses around gender, feminism and femininity. Drawing on this latter version we make visible the embeddedness of postfeminism in preference theory highlighting its connection to the creation of a new postfeminist subjectivity based on an agentic and ‘choosing’ femininity. We show how a consideration of preference theory in terms of the emergence and constitution of “the female chooser”, opens up aspects of Hakim’s thesis which to date have been overlooked. In addition, our postfeminist reading of preference theory draws out aspects of Hakim’s account which she herself understated. Specifically, within a contemporary context where equivalent priority is afforded to wage-work and care work, it is Hakim’s ‘adaptive’ woman who exemplifies the new postfeminist subject required to perform well simultaneously in both the work and domestic domains.
Adamson, M., Kelan, E., Lewis, P., Rumens, N. and Sliwa, M. (2016). The quality of equality: thinking differently about gender inclusion in organizations. Human Resource Management International Digest [Online] 24:8 -11. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/HRMID-04-2016-0060.Purpose: This article suggests a shift in thinking about how to improve gender inclusion in organisations, as well as offering a number of practical action points.
Design/methodology/approach: This article takes a perspective based on the authors’ own ongoing research as well as synthesis of existing insights into gender inclusion in organisations.
Findings: In order to retain top talent and improve organisational climate, we need to re-think how we measure the success of organisational inclusion policies. Specifically, the article suggests moving from numbers and targets to looking at the quality of gender inclusion in the workplace. The article explains why this shift in thinking is important, and how to approach it.
Practical implications: The article provides strategic insights into and practical thinking about ways in which progressive organisations can continue to improve gender equality.
Originality/value: The article makes a provocative call for a change of perspective on gender inclusion in organisations based on cutting-edge research, and puts forward action points in an accessible format.
Lewis, P. (2014). Postfeminism, femininities and organization studies: exploring a new agenda. Organization Studies [Online] 35:1845-1866. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0170840614539315.The purpose of this article is to mobilize postfeminism as a critical concept for exploring women’s contemporary organizational experience. Specifically, it is argued that rather than interpreting women’s position in organizations solely in terms of exclusion connected to a dominant masculine norm, critically deploying the concept of postfeminism facilitates a critique of how women and a reconfigured femininity are now being included in the contemporary workplace. As the focus of the paper is the connection between postfeminism as a cultural phenomenon and the emergence of feminine organizational subjectivities, the construction of feminine subjectivities in the entrepreneurial arena (referred to as entrepreneurial femininities) is presented through a reading of the gender and entrepreneurship literature. Four entrepreneurial femininities are depicted—individualized, maternal, relational, excessive—with one key characteristic being the way in which they are all constituted through the doing of both masculinity and femininity via the integration and embodiment of conventional feminine and masculine aspirations and behaviours
Lewis, P. (2013). The Search for an Authentic Entrepreneurial Identity: Difference and Professionalism among Women Business Owners. Gender, Work and Organization [Online] 20:252-266. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0432.2011.00568.x.This article contributes to the recent stream of research on enterprise and identity by exploring the authenticity-driven identity work of a group of women business owners. While previous research has highlighted the effort some female business owners put into fitting in with the masculine identity of the entrepreneur, this article focuses on those women who self-consciously adopt a feminized entrepreneurial identity as a means of being ‘who I really am’ in a business context. Nevertheless, despite their expressed commitment to a feminized identity, the article highlights their incorporation of a contrasting position or antagonism in this authenticity-driven endeavour. Drawing on Charme's notion of existential authenticity, which places an emphasis on the cultural, historical, political, economic and physical limits to being ‘true to oneself’, the article shows how the situated nature of women's search for an authentically driven entrepreneurial identity means that they draw on a feminized discourse of difference and a contrasting masculine discourse of professionalism in their identity construction labours.
Banihani, M., Lewis, P. and Syed, J. (2013). Is Work Engagement Gendered?. Gender in Management: An International Journal [Online] 28:400-423. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/GM-01-2013-0005.Purpose - The way work engagement is constructed and researched in literature is assumed, at least implicitly, to be gender-neutral where women and men have equal opportunity to demonstrate their engagement in the workplace. This review paper integrates gender into the notion of work engagement in order to examine whether the notion of work engagement is gendered.
Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based on a review of the literatures related to work engagement and gendered organisations.
Findings - The paper proposes a conceptual framework to develop and explain the notion of gendered work engagement. It shows that work engagement is gendered concept as it is easier for men to demonstrate work engagement than for women.
Originality/value - The paper investigates the gendered nature of work engagement which is an under-explored area.
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2012). Kanter Revisited: Gender, Power and (In)Visibility. International Journal of Management Reviews [Online] 14:141-158. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2370.2011.00327.x.This paper revisits Kanter's (1977) seminal work Men and Women of the Corporation, rereading her account of numerical advantage and disadvantage through a poststructuralist lens which exposes hidden dimensions of gendered power. This lens is captured in the ‘(In)visibility Vortex’ (Lewis and Simpson, 2010) which highlights struggles and tensions around the norm through processes of preservation and concealment within the norm as well as dynamics of revealing, exposure and disappearance as features of the margins. The study draws on developments in feminist theorizing, specially around visibility, invisibility and power, to facilitate this rereading. In so doing, the author demonstrate that while Kanter retreated from explanations based on the gendering of organizations or from recognition of gendered power, these dynamics can be identified in her text. The authors suggest that rereading classic texts can surface dimensions of organizations that have contemporary significance and can inform future research.
Simpson, R. and Lewis, P. (2019). Men in Caring Occupations and the Postfeminist Gender Regime. In: Gottzén, L., Mellström, U. and Shefer, T. eds. Routledge International Handbook of Masculinity Studies. London, UK: Routledge. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315165165.
Lewis, P., Benschop, Y. and Simpson, R. (2018). Postfeminism: Negotiating Equality with Tradition in Contemporary Organizations. In: Lewis, P., Benschop, Y. and Simpson, R. eds. Postfeminism and Organization. Routledge, pp. 3-18. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Postfeminism-and-Organization/Lewis-Benschop-Simpson/p/book/9781138212213.
Lewis, P. (2018). Postfeminism and Gendered (Im)mobilities. In: Lewis, P., Benschop, Y. and Simpson, R. eds. Postfeminism and Organization. Routledge, pp. 21-42. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Postfeminism-and-Organization/Lewis-Benschop-Simpson/p/book/9781138212213.
Lewis, P. (2017). Postfeminism and Entrepreneurship: Exploring the Identity of the Mumpreneur. In: Henry, C., Nelson, T. and Lewis, K. eds. The Routledge Companion to Global Female Entrepreneurship. Oxon, UK: Routledge, pp. 253-268. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-to-Global-Female-Entrepreneurship/Henry-Nelson-Lewis/p/book/9781138015180.This chapter contributes to the developing body of research that considers identity as an aspect of business ownership by examining the emergence and representation of the mumpreneur as an entrepreneurial character, understood here as a woman who runs a business from home alongside the active parenting of children and the management of a household. Conventionally the identities of 'entrepreneur' and 'mother' are perceived as being mutually exclusive and oppositional with motherhood being understood as significantly problematic for entrepreneurship. However, the emergence of the new entrepreneurial identity of the mumpreneur appears to suggest that these identities are no longer in tension. As a means of exploring the new entrepreneurial identity of mumpreneur, the materialization of which is based on contemporary women's willingness to be a subject of economic capacity while also taking up the traditionally marked out roles of mother and wife, attention will be directed at the issue of femininity in its changed postfeminist form and how this relates to entrepreneurship.
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2015). Understanding and Researching ’Choice’ in Women’s Career Trajectories. In: Braodbridge, A. and Fielden, S. eds. Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management: Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 44-60. Available at: https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/handbook-of-gendered-careers-in-management.In this chapter we consider some of the cultural conditions that make the notion of choice appear persuasive in accounts of women's career experiences. We contextualize the emergence of choice around careers by connecting it to the cultural discourse of postfeminism. Reflecting a primacy placed on individualization and on the role of the individual, divorced from structures such as gender and class, postfeminism is oriented towards an understanding of feminine agency and a new 'choosing femininity' that suggests women can 'have it all'. In connecting the phenomenon of choice to its social and cultural context, we highlight in particular the hidden and hitherto unrecognized influence of postfeminism in Hakim's account of preference theory which proposes that labour market outcomes are largely the result of individual choices made.
Lewis, P. (2014). Feminism,Postfeminism and Emerging Feminities in Entrepreneurship. In: The Oxford Handbook of Gender in Organizations. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199658213.013.028.Set within the context of a consideration of the cultural phenomenon of postfeminism, the focus of this chapter is an exploration of the issue of femininity and entrepreneurship, which unlike masculinity and its relationship with entrepreneurial activity, has had relatively little research attention directed at it. Drawing on three postfeminine factors—individualism, choice, and empowerment; notions of ‘natural’ sexual difference; retreat to the home—the chapter identifies four emerging entrepreneurial femininities including individualized entrepreneurial femininity, maternal entrepreneurial femininity, relational entrepreneurial femininity, and excessive entrepreneurial femininity. The chapter argues that these are embedded within a historically specific postfeminist context and incorporate transformations in popularly available understandings of femaleness and women’s positioning in the contemporary world of work.
Simpson, R., Slutskaya, N., Lewis, P. and Hopfl, H. (2012). Introducing Dirty Work, Concepts and Identities. In: Dirty Work: Concepts and Identities. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-18.
Lewis, P. (2012). Post-Feminism and Entrepreneurship: Interpreting Disgust in a Female Entrepreneurial Narrative. In: Dirty Work: Concepts and Identities. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 223-228.
Lewis, P. (2010). Mumpreneurs: Revealing the Post-Feminist Entrepreneur. In: Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. eds. Revealing and Concealing Gender: Issues of Visibility in Organizations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 124-138.Issues of visibility and invisibility are becoming increasingly apparent in gender research in organizations. This book will not only further develop current theoretical ideas around being seen and unseen within organizations, but will also provide us with the opportunity to problematize the concepts of visibility and invisibility
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2010). Theoretical Insights into the Practices of Revealing and Concealing Gender within Organizations. In: Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. eds. Revealing and Concealing Gender: Issues of Visibility in Organizations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-22.Issues of visibility and invisibility are becoming increasingly apparent in gender research in organizations. This book will not only further develop current theoretical ideas around being seen and unseen within organizations, but will also provide us with the opportunity to problematize the concepts of visibility and invisibility
Conference or workshop item
Lewis, P. (2018). Telling Neoliberal and Postfeminist Stories: What Gets Heard in Feminist Organization Studies. In: 10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Gender, Work & Organization Conference.This paper is prompted by the question - are you a postfeminist? This is a question I am often asked when I deliver a presentation which draws on the concept of postfeminism. My response is invariably “no” often followed by the observation that “while I may not be a postfeminist I am likely governed by this discursive formation”. When writing about postfeminism I tend to make clear that it should not be treated as another version of feminism which sits alongside other feminist perspectives and therefore it is difficult to categorise an individual as a postfeminist (Lewis, 2014; Lewis, Benschop & Simpson, 2017). Instead, what is emphasised is that postfeminism understood as a discursive formation can be used as a critical concept to make visible the nature and persistence of inequality within contemporary organizations or as an object of analysis in and of itself which requires ongoing examination to shed light on its constantly evolving practices of power (Gill, 2016; Lewis, 2018). I was brought back again to this question at a feminist conference where dislike of the notion of postfeminism was expressed by a member of the audience in such a way that I had to clarify that I was not a postfeminist advocate. At the time what surprised me about having to make this clarification was that while the focus of one of the other speakers (Catherine Rottenberg) was on neoliberal feminism and mine was on postfeminism, we both treated these phenomena as forms of governance, yet nobody suggested or alluded to the idea that Catherine was a supporter of or in agreement with neoliberalism (Feminist Emergency, Birkbeck, June 2017).
Understood as forms of governance, neoliberal feminism and postfeminism have posed problems for feminism by resignifying it in individualist terms. Neoliberalism gives primacy to feminist ideas that resonate with market agendas i.e. individualism, choice, empowerment and postfeminism places the onus for the achievement of equality on empowered individual (female) subjects (Burton, 2014; Gill, 2007; McRobbie, 2009; Negra & Tasker, 2014; Prugl, 2015). Thus, both neoliberalism and postfeminism seek to deflect attention away from the structural conditions that impact on individuals and perpetuate inequalities but my personal experience of responses to critical use of these two concepts varies and the interesting question is why? To address this question, I draw on the suggestion that theories and concepts can be performative – that they may ‘fulfil’ themselves through the role they play in constructing reality (Ferraro et al, 2005; Gond et al, 2015). As Runte & Mills (2006: 696) have stated: ‘theories…provide the stories by which we come to understand the world and our place within it’ and so this paper will compare and contrast the stories of neoliberalism and postfeminism in terms of what each concept does, how each concept is received and how each impacts on the feminist stories we tell within organization studies (Hemmings, 2005).
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2016). Triggering Feminization: An Exploration of "Doing" Feminine Leadership. In: 9th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Gender, Work & Organization Conference.Feminization is understood as the spread of attributes or qualities traditionally associated with femininity to people (e.g. managers, teachers and politicians), occupations (e.g. management, teaching and politics) and areas (e.g. business world, education and government) not normally described or understood in that way. In her ground-breaking paper Feminization Unveiled: Management Qualities in Contemporary Writings (1997), Fondas sought to make visible the feminization of managers and management. She did this by demonstrating how traits and characteristics conventionally associated with the feminine were increasingly inserted into the accounts of managerial work contained in management texts published in the 1980s and 1990s. Arguing that these texts acted as carriers of a feminine ethos to practicing managers, Fondas also highlighted the failure of these writers to name this transformation as feminization.
While Fondas unveiled the process of feminization and demonstrated how its existence revealed the gendered nature of management theorising and management practice, this paper seeks to build on her analysis by exploring the impact of one of the triggers which gave rise to the process of feminization and also consider what feminization once activated has done within organizations over the past 20 years. According to Fondas (1997: 269) ‘…redefining managerial work involves both substantive, structural change and symbolic cultural change’ and we will demonstrate that the fundamental transformation of managerial work that feminization entails is connected to the discursive formation of postfeminism (Gill, 2007) and its validation of feminine difference. Through a critical reading of the feminine leadership literature via the lens of postfeminism, the paper will do two things: first, explore the feminine leadership subjectivities that feminization gives rise to and its impact on the conduct associated with these. Second, consider what has happened to the feminist knowledge upon which feminization is based once it entered into the context of business organizations. The paper will demonstrate how feminization has given rise to a preferred feminine leadership subjectivity deemed suitable for the corporate environment and that the (restricted) take-up of feminist knowledge has contributed to the emergence of moderate feminism.
Lewis, P. and Essers, C. (2015). Postfeminism and Intersectionality: Exploring Reconfigurations of Femininity in Organization Studies. In: 9th International Critical Management Studies.In recent work (Lewis, 2014), it has been argued that the time has come for gender scholars to move away from a focus on women’s exclusion from organizations connected to a dominant masculine norm. Instead, through critical deployment of the concept of postfeminism, it is argued that there is a need for a critique of how women and a reconfigured femininity are now being included in the contemporary workplace, highlighting the way in which women are subject to a stream of enticements in relation to their visibility, agency and capacity in today’s organizations. In other words engaging in the workplace in a way that is “both progressive but also consummately and reassuringly feminine” (McRobbie, 2009:57). This is not to claim that the concept of femininity has been completely left out of the gender and organization studies field, but an elucidation of postfeminism and how it has reworked cultural understandings of femininity in countries such as Britain and America, impacting on women’s access to and positioning within organizations, is largely absent. However, defining and understanding what is meant by postfeminism is notoriously difficult so the first part of this presentation will map out the definitional complexity of this phenomenon and the feminine organizational subjectivities it can give rise to.
Following this, the second part of the presentation will consider postfeminism through the lens of intersectionality, highlighting the way it privileges a white, middle-class, heterosexual subject (Projansky, 2001). Nevertheless, the relationship between postfeminism and the non-white, non-heterosexual, non-middle class female subject is not simply one of exclusion. While postfeminism may reconfigure a restricted femininity this does not mean that only white, heterosexual, middle class women are included in and affected by the postfeminist cultural phenomenon - women of colour may also take-up postfeminist discourses. Approaching postfeminism as inclusive of women of colour and other forms of difference – though recognising its affirmation of whiteness, heterosexuality and middle classness as the standard – allows us to explore how take-up of postfeminist discourses impacts on feminine organizational subjectivities – some of which reinforce conventional dominance while others provide the opportunity for disruption.
Lewis, P. (2014). Postfeminism and Entrepreneurship: Exploring the Identity of the Mumpreneur Conference Paper. In: 8th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Gender, Work & Organization Conference 2014.
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2013). Postfeminism - The Cultural Location of Choice. In: 8th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Gender, Work & Organization Conference 2014.
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2013). Hakim Revisited:Preference Theory and Postfeminism. In: British Academy of Managment. Available at: http://www.bam.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info?id=1161&reset=1.
Lewis, P. (2013). Mumpreneur: The Emergence & Implications of a Postfeminist Entrepreneurial Identity. In: British Academy of Management. Available at: http://www.bam.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info?id=1161&reset=1.
Lewis, P. (2013). Mumpreneur: The Emergence and Implications of a Postfeminist Entrepreneurial Identity. In: British Academy of Management Conference 2013.
Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. (2013). Hakim Revisited: Preference Theory and Postfeminism. In: British Academy of Management Conference 2013.
Lewis, P. (2013). Feminist Organization Studies and PostFeminism: Exploring a New Agenda. In: Invited Speaker at University of Essex Business School.This paper presents a review of the notion of postfeminism and argues that an understanding of this cultural phenomenon should be inserted into feminist organization studies. While various feminist perspectives have a well established presence within organization studies and acknowledge that full gender equity has still to be achieved, there is less recognition that the continued pursuit of equality is occurring within a postfeminist cultural milieu, which regularly asserts the claim that gender issues have been dealt with and equality ‘secured’. The strong cultural presence of the postfeminist claim that gender issues have been ‘sorted’ certainly complicates and disrupts the continuing need for feminist theorising within a field such as organization studies. In providing a review of postfeminism, the paper also considers its conflation with and differentation from third wave feminism as there has been confusion and slippage between the two with a resultant lack of clarity regarding how they are differentiated from each other. In addition, while there are some similarities between postfeminism and third wave feminism around for example explorations of contemporary femininity, third wave feminism provides us with the means to critique postfeminism as a cultural phenomenon. In the final part of the paper, an example of how postfeminism can be used within the organization studies context, which focuses on the emergence of entrepreneurial femininities among women business owners, is presented.
Todres, M., Lewis, P. and Laffey, D. (2012). Just Add and Stir A critical Appraisal of the Social Entrepreneurship Studies. In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Available at: http://www.isbe.org.uk/ISBE2012.
Lewis, P. (2012). Feminism, Post-Feminism, and Emerging Femininities in Entrepreneurship. In: Democratising Diversity Management in Europe: Future Research Directions and Challenges. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199658213.013.028.Set within the context of a consideration of the cultural phenomenon of postfeminism, the focus of this chapter is an exploration of the issue of femininity and entrepreneurship, which unlike masculinity and its relationship with entrepreneurial activity, has had relatively little research attention directed at it. Drawing on three postfeminine factors—individualism, choice, and empowerment; notions of ‘natural’ sexual difference; retreat to the home—the chapter identifies four emerging entrepreneurial femininities including individualized entrepreneurial femininity, maternal entrepreneurial femininity, relational entrepreneurial femininity, and excessive entrepreneurial femininity. The chapter argues that these are embedded within a historically specific postfeminist context and incorporate transformations in popularly available understandings of femaleness and women’s positioning in the contemporary world of work.
Lewis, P. (2012). Postfeminism, Multiple Femininities and the (un)doing of Gender in Entrepreneurship. In: European Group of Organisational Studies. Available at: http://www.egosnet.org/archive/2012_helsinki/general_theme.
Lewis, P. (2012). Mumpreneurs and the Hybridization of Public and Private Space. In: Gender, Work and Organization 7th Biennial International Interdisiplinary Conference.
Lewis, P. (2012). Postfeminism, Multiple Femininities and the (Un)Doing of Gender in Entrepreneurship Conference Paper. In: 28th European Group of Organization Studies.
Lewis, P. (2011). Mumpreneurs and the Hybridization of Public and Private Space Conference Paper. In: 7th Biennial Gender, Work and Organization Conference.
Lewis, P. (2011). Kanter Revisited: Gender, Power and (In)Visibility. In: Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders.This paper revisits Kanter's (1977) seminal work Men and Women of the Corporation, rereading her account of numerical advantage and disadvantage through a poststructuralist lens which exposes hidden dimensions of gendered power. This lens is captured in the ‘(In)visibility Vortex’ (Lewis and Simpson, 2010) which highlights struggles and tensions around the norm through processes of preservation and concealment within the norm as well as dynamics of revealing, exposure and disappearance as features of the margins. The study draws on developments in feminist theorizing, specially around visibility, invisibility and power, to facilitate this rereading. In so doing, the author demonstrate that while Kanter retreated from explanations based on the gendering of organizations or from recognition of gendered power, these dynamics can be identified in her text. The authors suggest that rereading classic texts can surface dimensions of organizations that have contemporary significance and can inform future research.
Lewis, P. (2011). Emerging Femininities in Entrepreneurship. In: Gender, Work & Organization International Workshop Series.
Albouss, F. (2017). Postfeminism and Middle Eastern Female Academics in UK Universities: A Discursive Analysis.This thesis explores how Middle Eastern Female Academics appropriate postfeminist discourses emphasising choice, agency and individual decision-making to account for their work experiences in British universities. In looking at their accounts of their academic work experiences, the thesis highlights how they downplay inequality - a contrast to much of the existing literature on gender and the academy which suggests that all women and in particular women of colour, face multiple levels of exclusion in university workplaces characterised by a masculine norm. Approaching postfeminism as a discursive formation and using it as a critical concept to interpret the data, the analysis identifies four interpretive repertoires drawn on by 20 female academics of Middle Eastern origin within the context of in-depth interviews. These include (1) individualism, choice and empowerment, (2) 'natural' sexual difference, (3) retreatism - western tradition of working mothers, (4) retreatism - Middle Eastern tradition of extended family of origin. Through use of these interpretive repertoires the respondents firstly deny experiences of inequality and secondly constitute an academic "feminine" identity derived from the co-existence of masculine and feminine behaviours as follows: (1) the independent academic woman, (2) the academic mother - western tradition, and (3) the traditional Middle Eastern academic. As the thesis takes a discursive approach, these identities are not treated as fixed and stable rather they are understood as being constructed through postfeminist discourses and constantly negotiated with work colleagues and others. Thus, the identified academic femininities are understood in processual terms as something MEFA 'do' or 'perform' as opposed to being a static attribute they 'have' (Benwell & Stokoe, 2006). Identification of these interpretive repertoires and the three academic femininities demonstrates the following: first, that similar to their white, western colleagues, Middle Eastern Female Academics draw on the discursive formation of postfeminism and that their use of postfeminist discourses shapes how they configure and speak about their academic work experiences. Second, Middle Eastern Female Academics constitute academic identities within postfeminism. Third, our understanding of tradition as an element of the postfeminist discursive formation needs to be expanded to include domestic responsibilities attached to family of origin as well as domestic responsibilities connected to motherhood.
Todres, M. (2016). Exploring The ’Social’ In Social Entrepreneurship: Applying The Concept of Network Sociality To Social Entrepreneurs.The purpose of this thesis is to mobilise the concept of network sociality (Wittel 2001) as a framework for exploring how social entrepreneurs enact social entrepreneurship. Specifically, this thesis questions the tendency to interpret social entrepreneurs and their ability to achieve their altruistic aim of solving social problems only in terms of the successful application of business practices such as financial control, marketing, and strategising. Instead it is argued that critically deploying the concept of network sociality does two things.
Firstly, it highlights the importance of also depicting and understanding the nature of the social processes (i.e., interactions with other stakeholders) which play a crucial role in the success of social entrepreneurial activity. Network sociality therefore helps to conceptualise the under researched activities which precede social change. Secondly, this thesis facilitates a move away from the dominant stance in the literature where the social entrepreneur is conceptualised in terms of either an individualist 'solitary hero' operating alone without the assistance of others (Nicholls 2010), or alternatively as a communally embedded actor operating in the context of strong ties of solidarity (Hjorth and Bjerke 2006; Hjorth 2013; Steyaert and Hjorth 2007).
The aim of this thesis is to shed light on the social processes inherent in doing business in a social entrepreneurship context, by drawing on data derived from 33 semi-structured interviews with social entrepreneurs located in the south east of England. An abductive analysis (Van Maanen, Sørensen and Mitchell 2007; Tavory and Timmermans 2014) whereby the interview data is read through the five dimensions of the concept of network sociality - individualisation, ephemeral relations, information exchange, assimilation of play and work, and use of technology - facilitates a critique of the literature privileging outcomes at the expense of conceptualising the social actions that precede and facilitate these outcomes (826 Seymour, Richard 2012), as well as the prevailing dichotomy in the social entrepreneurship literature where the 'social' element is conceptualised largely in collectivist (Hjorth 2013; Steyaert and Hjorth 2007), philanthropic (Tan, Williams and Tan 2003; Tan, Williams and Tan 2005) terms while the 'entrepreneurship' element is conceptualised in largely individualist business terms (Dees, Emerson and Economy 2002). The analysis sheds light on social entrepreneurship beyond the distinction of collective versus individual (Nicholls 2010). Through the use of the concept of network sociality, the thesis rather makes visible how the social entrepreneur engages in several social activities while operating in an individualistic manner to achieve social/business aims within the context of impermanent relationships (113 Wittel, Andreas 2001). The thesis concludes that it is in researching and conceptualising what social entrepreneurs do, that we can better understand who social entrepreneurs are, in their missions to secure positive solutions to social problems.
Lewis, P. (2012). Consultation about the promotion of female entrepreneursship for the Women’s Business Council at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London. [N/A].
Lewis, P. (2018). Postfeminism and Organization. [Online]. Lewis, P., Benschop, Y. and Simpson, R. eds. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Postfeminism-and-Organization/Lewis-Benschop-Simpson/p/book/9781138212213.This edited book inserts postfeminism (PF) as a critical concept into understandings of work and organization. While the notion of PF has been extensively investigated in cultural and media studies, it has yet to emerge within organization studies - remaining marginal to understandings of work based experiences and subjectivities. Understanding PF as a discursive cultural context not only draws on an established epistemological orientation to organizations as discursively constructed and reproduced but allows us to highlight how PF may underpin and be underpinned by other discursive regimes
This book, as the first in the field, draws on key international authors to explore: the contextual ‘backdrop’ of PF and its links with neo-liberalism, transnational feminism and other hegemonic discourses; the different ways in which this backdrop has infiltrated organizational values and practice through the primacy attached to choice, merit and individual agency as well as through the widespread perception that gender disadvantage has been ‘solved’; and the implications for organizational subjectivity and for how inequality is experienced and perceived.
This book introduces postfeminism as a critical concept with contemporary importance for the study of organizations, arguing for its explanatory potential when:
- Exploring women’s and men’s experience of managing and organizing;
- Investigating the gendered aspects of organizational life;
- Analysing the contemporary validation of the feminine and the associated feminization of management/leadership and organizations;
- Tracing the emergence of new femininities and masculinities within organizational contexts.
The book is ideal reading for researchers working in the area of Gender and Organization Studies but is also of interest to researchers in the areas of Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Women’s Studies and Sociology.
Lewis, P. (2012). Dirty Work: Concepts and Identities. Simpson, R., Slutskaya, N., Lewis, P. and Hopfl, H. eds. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.This book explores new understandings and contemporary experiences of dirty work - tasks or roles that are seen to be disgusting or degrading. Through novel empirical sites that include nursing, medicine, sex work, sex call operations, finance and women's magazines, the book offers new theoretical insights into a form of work that is increasing in significance in the contemporary labour market. By drawing on concepts such as staining, embodiment and 'whiteness', it complicates the clean/dirty divide in the context of work and contributes to understandings of dirty work as contingent, fluid and socially constructed. It offers rich insights into the complex ways in which such work is experienced and the variety of strategies drawn on as dirty workers seek to manage identity.
Lewis, P. (2010). Revealing and Concealing Gender: Issues of Visibility in Organizations. Lewis, P. and Simpson, R. eds. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Issues of visibility and invisibility are becoming increasingly apparent in gender research in organizations. This book will not only further develop current theoretical ideas around being seen and unseen within organizations, but will also provide us with the opportunity to problematize the concepts of visibility and invisibility
Lewis, P., Benschop, Y. and Simpson, R. eds. (2017). Special Issue: Postfeminism, Gender and Organization. Gender, Work & Organization [Online] 24. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/14680432/2017/24/3.This special issue seeks to insert postfeminism as a critical concept into understandings of gender, work and organization. It is motivated by a desire to highlight the wider applicability of postfeminism and its associated themes and archetypes beyond its original disciplinary position of cultural and media studies, demonstrating its importance to the field of gender and organization studies (Lewis, 2014a; Tasker & Negra, 2005). In doing this, the special issue will reveal how notions of choice, individualism, opt-out, opt-in, merit, make-over - frequently used in relation to contemporary gender issues in organisations and presented as reasons for the persistent inequalities that women experience in the world of work – share common (unacknowledged) postfeminist roots. A key aim is to move beyond superficial understandings of women’s contemporary agency to investigate how the reconfiguration of femininities, the disavowal of structure, the promotion of choice and the valorisation of a moderate feminism associated with postfeminism, impact on organizations and the women and men who work within them.