(2008). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 8(2):194-215
Women in a World of Men: The Transformation of Gender Dynamics Through the Recovering of Identities
This paper is based on a consultancy project for a multi-national company. that an abnormally low number of women reaches senior management positions, this company commissioned the authors to design and run a programme on career for talented young women.
While the work contracted was not framed psychodynamically, a group relations' framework was used to understand and work with the at work in the request, design, and implementation of the . In particular, it helped the authors to accompany the organization through its difficulties in bridging the gap between intention and implementation, thus truly engaging with cultural .
The stream running throughout the work, and this paper, is the question: is diversity a resource? A difficult question, which certainly challenged programme participants and highlighted the risks generated by the of differences; in particular, the unleashing of paranoid- anxieties for women whose success so far has often relied on down or denying parts of who they are as women.
So, while the recovering of one's /identities was central to the of one's career, it also inescapably opened up the feelings associated with the experience of women in a man's world. The between connecting to that experience and feeding the that career could be a genderless matter gave the work its tempo.
This paper will draw on current literature on diversity in the workplace, as well as psychodynamic and group relations' literature on organizational . It will also draw on the authors' , processed through group relations' , and understood as data on what may be going on organizationally. The key points covered in this paper will be:
ο ‘alter-phagia’: from for the other to to eat the other;
ο the visceral threat generated by allowing women to be together;
ο A man's world: the use of the colonization-decolonization analogy to explore dynamics;
ο Individual, group, and organizational shame, and the to defend against it;
ο The recovery of the Feminine: journey towards an unchartered future.
It is hoped that this paper will provide a useful illustration of how these issues can be worked with in organizations, as well as open up new ways of conceptualizing certain aspects of cultural .