No man's land. An investigation of the profile, experiences and aspirations of female workers in a leading urban advertising company in contemporary Irish society

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Bagnall, J. Anthony
Issue Date
BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Seidler (1989), proposes that at least since Kant and the Reformation, rationality has been the dominant western mode available for construing experience, and rationality and masculinity have been conflated so that each connotes the other. Existing literature on the experiences of women in the work place highlights the existence of a patriarchal male dominated ethos in the majority of western work organisations. An exploration of male sexuality suggests that the rational mode of domination can be linked to as masculine responses to female sexuality. The rapid feminisation of the work place in the last twenty five years has challenged but at times colluded with the dominant mode of organising the work place. A deconstruction of the 'non-fixed' nature of masculine sexuality to widen the sphere of experience and perception to include emotion and acknowledgement of desire and the unconscious presents a strategic challenge in the work place. The present study investigates the experiences, challenges and aspirations of female workers in Ireland's leading advertising company. A questionnaire based survey was employed and responded to, by fifty percent of the female workers of varying positions of authority in the company. The sample were ambitious, highly educated and felt that work is vital to their sense of identity. The lack of female mentors was generally not seen as a deterrent to promotion and it was mainly agreed that men and women have different ways of doing things. The sample tended to be split in their belief that men are more rational and independent than women. Two thirds however, believed that women are more caring and emotional than men. The female role models portrayed the image of a woman with a mixture of traditional masculine and feminine traits. The discussion examines the following question. In light of the increased consciousness raising of the last forty years or so do traditional gender cultural stereotypes still persist because of the depth of their roots in the dominant rational mode of western culture?