Managing difference in feminized work: Men, otherness and social practice

Alison Pullen*, Ruth Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents a qualitative study of men who do traditionally female dominated and feminized work (specifically nursing and primary school teaching). Men are often seen as not only a minority to women in these contexts, but also their Other. The article explores the processes of doing gender as a social and discursive practice, highlighting the necessity to manage difference and the processual, emergent, dynamic, partial and fragmented nature of gendered identities. We show some of the complex ways in which men manage difference and how they transcend Otherness by doing masculinity and appropriating femininity so that masculinity is partially subverted and partly maintained. This analysis not only relies on the doing of gender through the doing of difference but also surfaces the undoing of gender and difference to disrupt gender norms and practices in work organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-587
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


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