Jennifer Berdahl, Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia
Berdahl says that a key reason why the workplace gender revolution has stalled is that work remains the site of masculinity contests among men. She outlines a theoretical framework for thinking about work as a masculinity contest, beginning with a brief review of scholarship on masculinity and exploring how the workplace is a context in which men feel particular pressure to prove themselves as “real men.” Berdahl identifies different dimensions of masculinity along which employees may compete and how the competition may differ by work context. She proposes that organizations with Masculinity Contest Cultures (MCCs) represent dysfunctional organizational climates (e.g., rife with toxic leadership, bullying, harassment) associated with poor individual outcomes for men as well as women (e.g., burnout, low organizational dedication, lower well-being). She discusses how papers on this issue contribute insight into MCCs, as well as contributions made by conceptualizing work as a masculinity contest, and gives directions for future research.