“The codes of virility are transmitted within companies”

In the collective work Masculinities (EPA editions), sociologist and doctor from the University of Paris-VIII Haude Rivoal summarizes the state of her research, which focuses on the links between work and masculinity.

You write that the “gender [du travail] endures.” Why does business still remain, in your eyes, a masculine world?

This is not necessarily due to men’s conscious strategies to maintain their domination, but structural elements allow them to be favored – in terms of career development, salaries, etc. This is the case, for example, in management. The investment and professional commitment required are only possible if domestic and parental work is relieved. Which today excludes a significant proportion of women.

Likewise, managerial professions promote character traits such as confidence, a taste for power, competition or the ability to face significant workloads without showing weaknesses. However, the majority of men have been educated through stereotypes of the tough man. All this can only contribute to creating “boy clubs” and a very masculine environment in certain professions.

However, have we not observed progress in recent years, albeit relative, towards better consideration of the place of women in business?

There have indeed been positive developments. Sectors have become more feminized, women have organized themselves into networks. We are also seeing some progress, such as menstrual leave. The idea of ​​an egalitarian norm seems, moreover, to achieve relatively consensus. This is particularly the case among the younger generation, where men are breaking away from certain patterns: they no longer want to be, like their fathers, workaholics. This being said, there remain quite strong “pockets of resistance”, where masculinity imposes itself.

Let us also note that, in certain professions, women succeed because they agree to align themselves with virile standards – which shows that, structurally, things do not really change. To gain responsibility, the requirements are such that they must embrace certain stereotypes linked in particular to temporal but also geographical devotion. Finally, it should also be noted that although the position of women can sometimes progress, there are certain professions where they are less and less present.

In which sectors can we see a decrease in the number of women?

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