Le sexe de l'expert. Régimes de genre et dynamique des inégalités dans l'espace du conseil en management.

Auteur Isabel BONI-LE GOFF
Directeur /trice André Grelon (EHESS, Paris)
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse

At the intersection of the theoretical frameworks of economic sociology and the sociology of gender, this study focuses on gender regimes and the dynamics of gender inequality in French management consulting. It exposes the combination of processes that actively contribute to produce gender and draws on the following empirical research: a long-running ethnographical study of a national employers’ association and of three consulting firms; a quantitative study involving 23 firms and 1637 employees (women and men); 76 biographical interviews, and an archival study of historical sources. Contemporary gender regimes in management consulting are first analyzed as the result of a socio historical process, during which the modeling of a masculine ethos and of male professional norms are intertwined with an accelerating feminization of the labor force. Appearing with the first Taylorist engineers, after the First World War, the ideal model of the expert, one defined by his technical know-how contributes to gender segregation in the labor market up until the beginning of the 1990s — even as the management consulting market undergoes an unprecedented expansion. This research also underlines how, on a meso sociological scale, the division of labor and power and contemporary gender inequalities variously structure consulting firms. Local gender regimes in the studied consultancies fall within three main models: exclusion, focused segregation, and banalization. The capitalistic instability that characterizes much of management consulting, and various forms of hold-up on the profits of corporations make the perspective of progress towards greater equality uncertain. The interactional processes that consulting inherently implies also contribute to produce gender: relational work with clients, which puts into play body techniques, exposes women consultants to specific difficulties, forcing them into forms of passing in order to embody the “ legitimate” expert. Drawing on resources stemming from their primary socialization and their marital configurations as well, women consultants negotiate their gender identity during their professional career, adopting different sets of strategies, from adaptation to transgression, to attempt to “undo” gender. In realizing that their sex may be a stigma, and in experiencing the different forms of discrimination that it entails, they engage in “moral careers” and sometimes get actively involved in executive women's movements for gender equality. Key words: gender – management consulting – sexual division of labor – expertise – relational work – embodiment – inequalities – careers

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URL https://applicationspub.unil.ch/interpub/noauth/php/Un/UnPers.php?PerNum=1176413