Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 427–445 | Cite as

The Discursive Construction of Gender in Contemporary Management Literature

  • Elisabeth K. KelanEmail author


This article analyses how the new type of worker is constructed in respect to gender in current management literature. It contributes to the increasing body of work in organisational theory and business ethics which interrogates management texts by analysing textual representations of gender. A discourse analysis of six texts reveals three inter-connected yet distinct ways in which gender is talked about. First, the awareness discourse attempts to be inclusive of gender yet reiterates stereotypes in its portrayal of women. Second, within the individualisation discourse, formerly discriminatory elements of gender lose their importance but a gender dimension reappears within the idea of ‹Brand You’. Third, in the new ideal discourse, women are constructed as ideal workers of the future. The article argues that there is little space within this web of discourses for an awareness of the continued inequalities experienced by women in relation to men to be voiced and that this rhetorical aporia contributes to a ‹post-feminist’ climate.


gender management organisational theory post-feminism discourse analysis 


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An earlier version of this article was published in German. The full reference is Kelan, E. K.: 2006. ``Zur (De)Konstruktion von Geschlecht in neuer Managementliteratur'', in R. Bendl, Betriebswirtschaftslehre und Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung, Teil 1: Verortung geschlechterkonstituierender (Re-)Produktionsprozesse (Peter Lang, Frankfurt/Main). I thank the Peter Lang Verlag for allowing me to publish a changed version of the article in English. I am also grateful to Rosalind Gill, Julia Nentwich, Rachel Dunkley-Jones and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments which improved this article immensely.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonU.K.

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