Study of gender as social practice and tokenism in an Indian IT Company

Geetanjali Kaushik, Alison Pullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This systematic study is focused on examining women's gendered identity work in an Indian IT company. The research builds a body of work that explores female tokenism at senior positions and highlights tension in practicing gender. Research was conducted through semistructured interviews with twenty two women employees utilizing the case study approach. A patriarchal Indian society and social construction of IT as feminine and rewarding for women is responsible for an increase of women participation in it. However, there is evidence of exclusion at all levels of hierarchy in the firm on accounts of gendering and social practices. There is prevalence of gender based discrimination in the nature of work allocated and the compensation received especially at the middle level. Gender stereotyping is related to such workplace discrimination. Women tokens at the higher levels have been unable to influence policy directions in favor of women employees. Frustrated women employees chose passive coping mechanisms such as acceptance as part of work culture and social expectations. Clearly, there are tensions between gender and social practice in the chosen firm. Companies have a significant role to play in nurturing and supporting women employees through a strong support system. Strategies include avoidance of negative connotations, mentoring, provision of work-life balance support initiatives, tough action against harassment, concerns of discrimination, and tokenism. The most important issue is awareness in the society which is effective in changing socially constructed beliefs and attitudes related to gender which would go a long way in improving women's experience in the workplace. Studies critically analyzing IT's implications on India's overall social and economic development are scarce. Further, there have been few sociological studies of work focusing on this industry or on its workforce. This study addresses the gap existing in the literature. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind in the Indian context as the few studies previously conducted on women in the IT workforce ignored theoretical perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)104-122
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Volume19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Female workforce
  • Gender
  • India
  • IT
  • Social practice
  • Tokenism

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