Masculinity in the Workplace
The concept of masculinity first emerged during the early stages of the modern industrial revolution. With the rapid progress of technology, the conditions of living became better and the traditional definition of masculinity changed. Today, in the modern workplace of America, masculinity is a factor that has to be taken into account by managers and also by employees. It plays a crucial and distinctive role in the way people will interact with each other and shapes the way relations of power and hierarchy are formed.
The ancient concept of masculinity was that men didn’t choose to work because they enjoyed it, but rather because they had to do it, in order to be called men . After that, men began thinking that the worst that could happen to a man was to be dependent on a woman , which would mean losing all manhood. At that period, male-dominated work began to rise, because male workers and owners agreed to exclude women from the most important emerging sectors . Concurrently, the concept that man should be the only one providing for the family emerged .
Masculinity is different for everyone and when different people get in contact with each other, their own perception of masculinity can create conflicts. A good place to find these kinds of examples is the workplace because it is there that men will spend most of their time and where they get a chance to affirm their own masculinity.
Research tends to show that “specific masculinities often crucially shape acts of shopfloor resistance.” Which means that power and gender are still affecting the work environment a lot, because men will always try to affirm their masculinity in the work place. This research also determined that employee skills, upon which managers have to constantly rely, are closely related to gender. Furthermore, it showed that within the members of the same sex, skills are also influenced by masculinity. It is the fact of being more masculine than someone else is that will determine not only the skill level but also the position relative to other of a peculiar worker. As an example of that, there is a manual worker in a big construction industry that says that responsibilities and specific tasks on the field are assigned and determined not by the knowledge level of a worker but rather by his masculine attitude . He explains that this masculine attitude can consist of throwing beers bottles or swearing in front of his coworkers, directly on the field or outside of work.
Another manual worker says that in order to affirm his masculinity and thus his place among his peers, he uses sexual discourse that defines the men’s sexuality as the center of his life and as something that one could never get enough of . He says that an important role of this discourses is to reduce woman to a sexual and docile object, even if he admits that his wife wouldn’t appreciate it at all and that he wouldn’t dare say it in front of her.