Applying a gender lens to employment relations: revitalisation, resistance and risks

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Employment relations is on the defensive. A gender lens provides opportunities for revitalisation through bringing in social reproduction alongside production, introducing intersectional identities alongside class, developing gendered critiques of ‘neutral’ markets and recognising the ‘doing of gender’ within the workplace. However, resistance within research and practice is evident in gender blindness, marginalisation of gender issues or preference for male interests. Three risks associated with a gender lens are identified: first, feminist critiques may be used by employers or neoliberal policymakers to deregulate employment; second, by making gender visible, gender differences may be used to legitimise gender inequalities; and third, in representing workers’ interests many pitfalls need to be navigated in steering a path between excessive fragmentation and reproducing hierarchy, whether by class, gender or race. Nevertheless, the costs of not embracing a gender perspective go beyond missed opportunities for renewal and leave employment relations at risk of further decline
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-436
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Early online date20 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • gender
  • Employment relations
  • social reproduction
  • Intersectionality
  • maeketisation
  • Body work

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Work and Equalities Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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