Forhandling af identitet og køn: Mellem modstridende idealer og forventninger
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Negotiation of identity and gender: Between contradictory ideals and expectations

Today everyday life is characterised by increasing conplexity and plurality. A fact made manifest in the widely ranging shifts in traditional conceptions concerning gender roles, sexuality, family structure, housing situations, work life, education, and possible courses of life. Simultaneously, this has fundamentally shifted social relations, such as the relationship among women and men respectively, as well as inter-generational relationships. Alongside these changes, a number of traditional convictions are still in force, and a number of structures are reproduced.

Consequently, today, the two genders are not only faced with new demands but also various, and often contradictory, ideals and expectations - e.g. in the world of work, where conceptions of the good mother or the 'present' father collide with expectations concerning the good employee, or in education, where developments in recent years indicate that girls and boys do not have the same resources, and that they adapt differently. This workshop focuses upon the significance of these changed conditions for the practices of women and men as well as girls and boys - and on their opportunities for shaping an individual identity.


Lotte Bloksgaard and Anette Borchorst: Framing parental leave

The Danish debate on parental leave has been subject to considerable changes during the past 50 years. During the same period the position of women vis-a-vis the labour market has changed drastically. Before the 1970s, care of children was considered a natural and biological female task, but gradually notions of the caring father have become more prevalent. Still, parenting has been based on a tacit understanding of mothers being the central care figure of the small child, and the issue of earmarking part of the leave for fathers has been controversial in Denmark.

The paper addresses changing and competing frames on parental leave on two different levels; political debates and negotiations between fathers and mothers in the family context. Frame analysis is used to explore how parental leave are perceived and articulated – framed – by different actors at the two levels. With regard to the first-mentioned we focus primarily on the historical changes in the political approach to parental leave whereas categorizations of interacting or competing frames and representations are in focus in the last mentioned. In both levels tacit assumptions of the gendered division of the leave, ‘silences’ and gendering/degendering in the articulations of parental leave are central themes for the analyses. Finally, the paper discusses, whether the political debates reflect the changing gender patterns in the family in relation to care for new born children.

Christina Fiig: Money Talks – Danish Bank Directors’ Discourses on Gender and Leadership

This article investigates the constructions of gender and leadership by means of focus group interviews with bank directors and junior managers in a Danish bank. The analysis shows how men and women directors construct leadership based on an argument of differences as 1) a type of essentialistic characteristic on an individual level rooted in a biological argument and as 2) socio-cultural differences in leadership practices, in job priorities and in relation to structural conditions for work and family life. Gender becomes a principle of structuring divisions in work practices, power relations and levels of ambition as perceived by the directors.

The analysis here fits with what existing research on leadership and gender in banking has concluded but takes the analysis a step further beyond the existing litterature.

Jakob Demant og Merete Poulsen: Samme forbrug men forskellige betydninger: Unges brug af alkoholreklamer i konstruktionen af voksne feminine og maskuline subjektpositioner.

English abstract TBA

Sigtona Halrynjo: (Ir)replaceable at home or at work? Mothers and fathers facing the “rules of career”

Increased level of education among women, new models of fatherhood and development of family friendly policies – have altered the external conditions for mothers’ and fathers’ adaptations to work and family. Nevertheless, these changes have not been sufficient to alter the gradual gendered division of labour among highly educated employees in Norway. In this paper I ask: In what ways does motherhood and fatherhood affect career and family adaptations among highly educated men and women? And how can these adaptations be explained?

Based on quantitative and qualitative data, the analyses show that highly educated men and women, despite a common starting point and equality oriented preferences for career and work-family adaptations, still find themselves in systematic different work-family adaptations. Fathers follow to a greater degree the “rules of career” implying continuous investment of time and energy and are rewarded with higher career opportunities. Mothers, on the other hand, typically take more responsibility at home and rely on the possibility of a postponed career. Fathers’ career gets priority, while mothers’ career tends to give way.

This paper challenges the traditional explanations of this pattern, rejecting preference theory as well as constraints perspective. As an alternative I explore the impact of the informal “rules of career”, i.e. the actual resources, characteristics and adaptations that are rewarded with advancement or other forms of career success, thus contributing to a better understanding of mothers’ and fathers’ conditions for career realization. The paper shows how the informal rules of career are based on insecurity and individual competition among internal and external colleagues over future career chances. The ability to construct oneself as irreplaceable is a core value. When family-friendly policies turn parents (mostly mothers) into replaceable workers, the “rules of career” are consequently violated. The analyses demonstrates how generous family-friendly policies designed to enhance gender equality and work-family balance by simply reducing practical constraints may have limited – or even counterproductive – impact within high-commitment occupations where the employee’s irreplaceability is the name of game.

Lena Correll: Women without children – Normality in today’s pluralized western world?

Demographic change has become a major political topic throughout Europe. The birth rates of most European countries have stagnated well below replacement level for decades. My research shows that in the predominant German political discourse gender constructions and demographic ideas are strongly interwoven.

My presentation is based on the results of my research on gender constructions of childless women in Germany (Correll, Lena, 2010: Anrufungen zur Mutterschaft. Eine wissens- soziologische Untersuchung von Kinderlosigkeit. Münster1). In the first part, I analyse domi- nant political discourses from 1949 until now. My findings suggest that the discourses on family and demographic change were and are still mainly addressing women, and they shape societal ideas about gender, femininity and family. In political discourses in Germany interpellations for motherhood (as I call them with reference to Althusser) are still apparent.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, there has even been an increase in these interpel- lations, given the growing predominance of demographic arguments. Constructions of femi- ninity are, as my research shows, thus strongly connected with motherhood: Women with- out children do still not correspond to the social norm and have to deal with that alleged deficit.

The second part of my research- my empirical case studies2  - examines the individual per- spective of women without children, based on qualitative interviews that I conducted with women working in the German public service sector. The results show that women have to legitimize their childlessness. They create individual `answers’ to the societal interpella- tion to motherhood, ranging from mothering in a patchwork family, professional motherhood (working with children) to a broad definition of social care. In addition, I can demonstrate which factors determine whether alternative concepts of feminin- ity and family are successfully established, in particular knowledge and education.


Stine Thidemann Faber, Associate Professor, FREIA - Feminist Research Center in Aalborg, Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University.

Lotte Bloksgaard, Assistant Professor, Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University.

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Halrynjo, Sigtona: (Ir)replaceble at home or at work? Mothers and fathers facing the ‘rules of career’

Correll, Lena: Women without children – Normality in today’s pluralized world?

Panel 2

Rennison, Bettina: Knæk kønnets koder – kvinder i ledelse

Fiig, Christina: Køn og ledelse i bankverdenen

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Revised 2012.01.15