Gender and Bureaucracy

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Can we blame women’s inferior position in the workplace on bureaucracy? Provide a critical discussion. Many arguments have been held on, whether the bureaucratic organisational structure and culture has led to the inferior positions that women hold in the workplace. Two prominent feminists Rosabeth Kanter and Kathy Ferguson bring out two arguments surrounding this argument. Rosabeth Kanter holds the position that it is not bureaucracy that causes women to have inferior positions in the workplace but rather it is those that hold the positions of power. Thus Rosabeth Kanter’s position is not that women have inferior positions in the workplace because of the bureaucratic structure but rather it is the people in power who are to blame (Witz & Savage, 1992:13). On the other hand Kathy Ferguson argues that bureaucracy is the cause of women’s inferior positions because a bureaucratic organisation tends to bring in the social ideology that women should have inferior positions, in such a way that women bring in their socially constructed capabilities to workplace, such as their caring and tidying up nature to the workplace and is exploited for efficiency in the workplace (Witz & Savage, 1992:13). However some scholars such as Rosemary Pringle and Judy Wajcman have criticised the Kanter and Ferguson (Davis, 2007:1). Rosabeth Kanter is of the view that bureaucracy in its purest form does not draw distinction based on sex or gender but rather on merit, she argues that the bureaucracy Weber described is void of an form of irrationality, which means that there is no room for any personal relationships and emotional attachment, and these are all characteristics which women are said to possess. Kanter argues that those that hold positions in a bureaucratic organisation tend to want to hang on to it by passing on the same position to people who are similar to them. Taking the historically context of the workplace men have been in the public eye for centuries whilst women...
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