Marketing Essay

The role of gender in work and organization in the modern age has been widely discussed in both theory and practice. Marketing scholars and practitioners alike are interested in knowing how gender influences the profession. In this regard, among the most frequently visited topics include Division of Labor, Gendered Cultures, Gender as a Social Practice, Sexuality and organization, Masculinities, Visibilities/invisibilities, Gender, Management and ethics, Women and leadership, and Feminism and organization.

In this sample paper, focus is on the concept of gender as a social practice. If you have been assigned to work on a different topic, you can share your instructions with us HERE and we’ll write a nice custom marketing paper for you.


The aim of the assignment is to critically evaluate key areas of gender and work and provide an in-depth analysis in relation to a topic we have covered on the module.

Question – Use ONE example of an organization or issue you are familiar with to explore: In what ways is gender relevant for work and organization in the 21st century?


Gender as a social practice in the 21st century

Table of Contents

Introduction. 2

Gender as a social practice. 3

Gender as an institution. 4

Gender mainstreaming. 5

Reflective analysis. 9

Conclusion. 10

References. 11


The issue of gender in the context of work and organization has been widely discussed throughout the twentieth century. This debate continues to be of great relevance even in the twenty first century. It continues to be a dominant theme in feminist theory, women studies, and even literary criticism. In essence, the subject of gender has become very popular among scholars and organizational practitioners alike in recent years.

In this debate, some of the issues discussed include division of labor; masculinities; sexuality in the context of the organization; visibilities and invisibilities; women and leadership; and feminism and organization. Male dominance is a major problem in the contemporary hierarchical organizations. Many feminists suggest that organizations should adopt gender-neutral structures to address this problem. Another dominant debate is on the ways in which the image of the typical employee has been pervaded by the man’s body and sexuality. These issues have far-reaching implications on the way women perceive their work as well as the structures put in place by different organizations to address gender issues.

This paper discusses the various ways in which gender is relevant for work and organization in the twenty first century. The paper narrows down its focus to the issue of gender as a social practice. To explore this issue in a real-life organizational context, the paper highlights examples from Rio Tinto, a multinational corporation operating in the mining industry.

Gender as a social practice

The issue of gender as social practice has a lot to do with the debate on gender relations in society. In real-life situations, aspects of gender relations are of great interest to many people, who endeavor to address them in different social forums. Sexual politics continue to attract scholars and practitioners largely because of the suggestions made as far as efforts to improve gender relations are concerned. In some instances, scholars have used these debates as a platform for reformulating contemporary social and political theory. The suggestions made in these platforms find their way not only into feminist theories and working-class feminism but also in the way gender relations are structured in organizations.

At Rio Tinto, many efforts have been made to embrace the concept of gender as a social practice (Gronow, 2012). The company endeavors to integrate gender considerations into activities that require the participation of local communities (Gronow, 2012). The objective is to ensure that gender aspects are put into consideration in all the company’s activities. Rio Tinto hopes to build a strong legacy that focuses on gender considerations in all the company’s operations (Gronow, 2012).

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One of the ways through which Rio Tinto has been endeavoring to incorporate gender aspects is  by increasing the opportunities available to women within local communities (Gronow, 2012). The reason for giving special attention to women is because in most cases, they tend to constitute a marginalized group. By employing more women in overseas subsidiaries, the company hopes to achieve the goal of diversity. Such diversity is useful for business because it provides a range of perspectives on the basis of which the best decisions can be made.

Rio Tinto’s approach has been debated upon in literature on gender mainstreaming, gender as an institution, gender equality, and gendered power. In this literature, efforts have been made to portray gender as a social practice. It is through efforts such as those of Rio Tinto that the concept of gender as a social practice can be promoted in organizational contexts. These efforts are also an indication of the various ways in which gender continues to be relevant for work and organization in the twenty first century.

Gender as an institution

One of the ways of promoting gender as a social practice is by viewing it as a social institution. According to Martin (2004), the most important characteristic that makes gender a social institution is endurance. Gender exhibits aspects of persistence over time. In the contemporary society, gender has survived numerous conflicts to retain its position as a source of identity. It has also continued to exist despite being the subject of numerous power struggles in society. Moreover, numerous political changes have occurred because of these power struggles. Yet gender remains a dominant concept in the workplace, at home, and in the political sphere (Fletcher, 2001). For this reason, it is correct to view gender as a social practice in the twenty first century.

According to Connell (2010), this element of persistence is also evident in the way people relate with one another within the organization. Many organizations continue to create special provisions to achieve gender equity. For example, at Rio Tinto, efforts are continually being made to ensure equality and inclusivity in all society groups, including ethnic minorities, migrants, landless people, indigenous peoples, and marginalized groups (Gronow, 2012). Efforts towards gender integration constitute one of the frontiers used by company to achieve equality and inclusivity.

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Gender equality in work and organization means that men and women, particularly the most vulnerable, should benefit in the same way with regard to employment opportunities. To achieve this goal of equality, every organization must put in place dialogical mechanisms of ensuring that the diversity of views regarding the roles of men and women is harmonized. At Rio Tinto, efforts are being made to ensure full participation by all specialist areas, including Human Resources, in addressing gender considerations in the creation of plans and programs. These efforts have led to the establishment of a gender-diversity guide that applies for all projects and work sites, including exploration, mining, and smelting.

It may seem that by undertaking these efforts, Rio Tinto views gender as an institution. Such an approach, according to Martin (2004), is highly likely to lead to the improvement of social theory and gender scholarship. Moreover, it will increase awareness on the profound sociality of gender (Martin, 2004). In such a situation, the gender dynamics that seem invisible most of the time become visible to everyone within the organization. Such a turn of events is beneficial for work and organization, particularly in today’s era of institutional complexity.

Gender mainstreaming

When viewed as a social practice, gender needs to be considered a crucial entity in the process of ensuring social equality and justice. Unfortunately, gender inequality is a major problem for many organizations of the twenty first century. Therefore, gender will continue being a relevant concept in the twenty first century as long as some inequalities are being perpetuated along gender lines.

In efforts to address such inequalities, most scholars and practitioners use the notion of gender mainstreaming.  According to Walby (2005), this is simply a gender equality strategy aimed at transforming organizational practices and processes by eliminating all gender biases in all routines. For this goal to be achieved, all regular actors have to be involved in the transformation process.

However, it is sometimes unclear whether the goals of gender mainstreaming can be achieved in the practical world. We live in gendered organizations where one of the main factors determining division of labor is gender. The problem is that in such a situation, gender mainstreaming inevitably becomes compromised (Benschop, 2006). In such a situation, it becomes impossible for the intended changes to be realized. However, all is not lost because through such efforts, the extent to which an organization is gendered is substantially reduced.

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In gender mainstreaming, the image invoked is that of cooperation between equal partners whose intention is to pursue the dual goals of business success and feminist goals. In such a situation, the outcome is determined by power differences between the parties involved. These power differences create room for compromises, thereby hindering the ability by gender mainstreaming to bring about transformative and innovative outcomes.

Most mining companies operating in the twenty first century are known to operate as gendered organizations. Rio Tinto is one of the mining companies in which gendered aspects of work have pervaded virtually all operations, departments, and processes (Gronow, 2012). Fortunately, the company’s management has acknowledged this weakness on many occasions and even highlighted a number of measures aimed at avoiding its negative impacts.

Some of the impacts arising from gendered aspects of work at Rio Tinto relate to local employment; negotiation and engagement; environmental and socio-economic aspects; and special issues such as resettlement and displacement (Gronow, 2012). In negotiations and engagement, the company has put in place mechanisms of involving local communities in the minerals development process, particularly during the early stages. However, women sometimes end up being excluded from these formal negotiations. In other instances, they end being excluded from even informal negotiations. Nevertheless, some women have managed to use their agencies as a platform for influencing negotiations.

The situation at Rio Tinto hints at some of problems that women encounter while working in gendered organizations. If these women are not being inhibited by cultural reasons, they are being obstructed by too much workload. Most of the public negotiation forums tend to be held in times and venues that are inconvenient for women with domestic and family responsibilities. Some women are forced to live away from mines in order to take care of their husbands and children.

According to Benschop (1998), gender inequality thrives in the contemporary society because people are always too preoccupied with practices that emphasize on gender distinctions. Such practices start in society before finding their way into the organization. As the case of Rio Tinto shows, gender divergence has its origin in society. In this way, gender is viewed as a social practice. These gendering processes tend to be power-based. They also tend to be concealed, such that concerted organizational awareness efforts must be put in place for them to be unmasked.

Another issue that portrays gender as a social practice at Rio Tinto is local employment (Gronow, 2012). The company aspires to create more opportunities for local communities by promoting local employment. The objective is to improve their economic status as well as that of their families. Moreover, employment increases the people’s skill level, mobility, and employability in other areas within the industry (Kelan, 2010). Moreover, the prospect of employment provides a major incentive for local people to pursue education.

However, a major problem is that men are mostly the ones who benefit from these employment opportunities. This provides a disincentive for young girls who may want to pursue further education in future. It is unfortunate that the some outdated International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions continue to prevent women from undertaking night work as well as working underground  (Poggio, 2006). These conventions have already been earmarked as “obsolete” and the only remaining thing is for to be rescinded (Poggio, 2006).

According to Martin (2006), today’s society has failed to make visible various subtle aspects of gender in work and organization. The first step towards achieving this goal would be to acknowledge not only their existence but also their influence in work and organization. In other words, a social perspective should be adopted to achieve success in gender issues that find their way into the workplace. Martin (2006) takes note of the “non-reflexive practices that not only communicate gender but also constitute aspects of gender” in all paid work settings. According to Martin, some gender practices are culturally available while others are constituted through interaction. In both instances, gender is viewed as a social practice with far-reaching implications on work and organization. It is imperative for managers of organizations to adopt a social approach in addressing negative impacts of gender differences in work.

However, Kelan (2010) argues it is possible to undo gender at work. To achieve this goal, one needs to first understand how gender is constructed through organizational interactions. In recent times, researchers have embarked on the work of determining how to deal with challenges relating to gender in work and organization. Towards this end, disagreements arise with regard to the choice of theoretical approach. Efforts towards addressing gender-related problems are bound to have far-reaching implications for research on work and organization.

Reflective analysis

In this reflexive analysis, I have learnt many things relating to gender as social practice. One of the main themes relates to the challenges that today’s organizations face in efforts to address gender issues. I was particularly surprised that such a large company as Rio Tinto has been compelled to address gender issues in order to survive. To me, this seems like a trivial issue that such a large multinational mining company should not engage in. However, it turns out that I was wrong because the company’s efforts now constitute a major contribution to gender mainstreaming.

Moreover, I now appreciate the critical role that women play in work and organization despite the fact that they face intense pressure from additional family-related and cultural responsibilities. This knowledge will have far-reaching implications in my future as a manager of a large organization. I will have to regard gender as an institution that has to be addressed from a social perspective. In work and organization, the negative impacts relating to gender can be addressed by ensuring that interactions are shaped in a manner that contributes positively to the goal of gender mainstreaming.

I understand the challenges that managers of multinational corporations face when addressing gender issues in the Third World. I expect to face similar challenges when I become a manager in a developing country. I now understand that there is abundant literature on the experiences faced by indigenous women in small-scale mining in these countries. I hope to keep referring to this literature throughout my career as a manager. Such information will continue to be useful in my efforts to understand the challenges of large mining environments. To do this, it will be imperative for me to think critically about the small-scale mining challenges that are highly likely to be reflected in large-scale mining contexts.

Most importantly, I now know that during the twenty first century, gender will continue to have a far-reaching impact on work and organization. It will continue to influence people’s socio-economic activities and opportunities. However, unless all organizations take drastic measures aimed at promoting gender mainstreaming, the problem of gender inequality will continue to persist. I think it is imperative that other companies follow from the example set by Rio Tinto in its efforts to contribute to the theme of gender mainstreaming.


In conclusion, gender continues to be relevant in many ways for work and organization in the twenty first century. This relevance is best appreciated when gender is viewed as a social practice. People derive numerous socio-economic benefits from interactions that are founded on gender relations. However, subtle aspects of gender are yet to be made visible in the twenty first century. One should expect gender to remain relevant as organizations endeavor to engage in gender mainstreaming in order to increase this visibility.

It is imperative for managers of organizations to adopt a social approach in addressing negative impacts of gender differences in work. On this basis, the relevance of gender today is not in doubt. The need to integrate gender considerations into activities that require the participation of local communities will continue to exist. In this way, gender will continue to be intertwined with socio-economic aspects of local employment.

The case of Rio Tinto demonstrates how gender-related issues affect the availability of employment for men and women. In this analysis, both social and cultural aspects of gender relations impact on the availability of employment opportunities for men and women. For example, in certain cultures, women face numerous challenges while participating in formal employment because they have to handle additional family-related responsibilities.


Benschop, Y. (1998). Covered by Equality: The Gender Subtext of Organizations. Organization Studies, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 787-805.

Benschop, Y. (2006). Sisyphus’ Sisters: Can Gender Mainstreaming Escape the Genderedness of Organizations? Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 19-33.

Connell, R. (2010). Gender and power: society, the person and sexual politics. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Fletcher, J. (2001). Disappearing Acts: Gender, Power And Relational Practice at Work. Free Press, Washington, D.C.

Gronow, J. (2012). Why gender matters: A resource guide for integrating gender considerations into communities work at Rio Tinto. Free Press, Melbourne.

Kelan, E. (2010). Gender Logic and (Un)doing Gender at Work. Gender, Work & Organization, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 174–194.

Martin, P. (2004). Gender As Social Institution. Social Forces, Vol. 82, No. 4, pp. 1249-1273.

Martin, P. (2006). Practising Gender at Work: Further Thoughts on Reflexivity. Gender, Work & Organization, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 254–276.

Poggio, B. (2006). Editorial: Outline of a Theory of Gender Practices. Gender, Work & Organization, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 225–233.

Walby, S. (2005). Gender Mainstreaming: Productive Tensions in Theory and Practice. Social Politics, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 321-343.

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