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The gendering of industrial design in Turkey as technology-related work: Exploring the narratives of professionals

Kaygan, Pinar (2012) The gendering of industrial design in Turkey as technology-related work: Exploring the narratives of professionals. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to contribute to a better understanding of gender asymmetry persisting in technology-related work on two grounds. First, unlike previous studies which have mainly been concerned with male-dominance in, and masculine culture of, technology-related work, this study focuses on the industrial design profession, and its distinctive situation in Turkey, where there is neither a significant numerical gap between female and male industrial designers, nor a strongly gendered occupational culture. Secondly, it draws together two separate bodies of work, namely feminist technology studies and feminist organisation studies, suggesting that gender inequality in technology-related work can be understood neither in isolation from the other concerns of organisational life (e.g. access to power and privilege, definitions of organisational roles and responsibilities), nor without taking into account the association of technology with masculinity. Adopting a feminist social constructionist approach, this thesis conceptualises gender as a process in which work is patterned through distinctions between masculine and feminine. Within this perspective, it draws on interviews conducted with 20 female and 12 male industrial designers from various industries in Turkey to explore to what extent and in what ways industrial designers’ work experiences are patterned by gender. Stories collected through these interviews are analysed using a thematic narrative approach. The analysis shows that, first, interdisciplinary relations, particularly with engineers, is an important site of gendering through which the occupational image of industrial design is associated with femininity and women; and second, this gender association is closely linked to the inferior status of designers among professional workers. In women’s stories, the inferior status associated with being a designer is also intertwined with being a woman, creating a double problem in the interdisciplinary office environment. On the shop floor, on the other hand, where industrial designers visit to supervise the blue-collar workers who build the models of their designs, such disciplinary distinctions disappear, and individual gender becomes more prominent. Contrary to the mixed-gender office environment, the male-dominated shop floor is an explicitly challenging work setting for women who enter there in positions of authority. This situation is created not only by the resistance of male shop floor workers to women’s superior position, but is sustained by male industrial designers’ consideration of the superior position on the shop floor as only proper for those who can display the necessary masculinity. Demonstrating how experience of gender changes dramatically between the shop floor and the office, this study highlights the complex, contextual and situated nature of gender construction at work. It contributes to the existing literature on gendering of work by addressing work settings as the site of gender inequality, rather than the occupations or organisations per se. Doing this reveals that gendered experiences of one particular profession or position is not fixed even in the same organisation, but changes depending on the requirements and priorities of different work settings; and that placing all emphasis on only one of these settings, possibly the most visible one, may limit our analysis of gender inequality experienced by the members of that profession.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr PINAR KAYGAN
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2012 12:59
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2723

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