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LGBTQ+ in the workplace to be discussed at Africa's first Global Gender Conference

The Global Gender, Work & Organization Conference is set to take place over three days (28-30 June 2023) for the first time on African soil in Stellenbosch and is hosted by Stellenbosch Business School. The conference aims to address issues concerning women and other marginalised gender groups, striving to reduce exclusion within society.

While societal acknowledgment of LGBTQ+ has moved into sharper focus, there remains a lack of research on workplace discrimination and its remedies, based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

With the theme "Marginalized gender identities - how can intellectual activism transform work and organization?" the conference provides a unique space to understand barriers faced by women and people with non-normative gender identities. It seeks to foster a deeper understanding of the factors that can support workplace transformation toward the inclusion of individuals with diverse and intersecting gender identities.

Prof Anita Bosch, Head Convenor of the GWO and the Research Chair of Women at Work at Stellenbosch Business School emphasises that gender groupings such as women and the LGBTQ+ community, with their wide and heterogeneous nature, encounter challenges in the workplace that negatively impact both individuals and organisations.

Traditionally, workplace studies have primarily focused on business strategy, structure, and processes, without acknowledging the gendered nature of work, workplaces and workplace organizing, often neglecting to consider the influence of heteronormative pressures on strategy, structure and processes.

Prof Bosch explains, "The challenges faced by women in the workplace have long been acknowledged. However, this conference delves deeper into the topic of gender identity, exploring social and workplace issues related to openly religious women, gender-neutral bathrooms, staying closeted at work, gender fluidity, and associated feelings of exclusion or being unwelcome. Our goal is not merely to address inclusion as compliance, but to create environments where organisational cultures are profoundly inclusive, enabling each individual to thrive and contribute their talents to economic activity."

Prof Bosch emphasises that exclusion is a defining characteristic of unresponsive workplaces. Typical business structures and cultures are often guided by patriarchal patterns, resulting in the glass ceiling, inflexible work practices, and a loss of talented resources.

The conference serves as a platform for feminist scholars, gender activists and LGBTQ+ researchers to engage in critical discussions, probing complex questions and sharing lived experiences. Overall, the conference seeks to invite intellectual activism to triumph over soapbox opportunism through evidence-based workplace gender research.

“These exchanges and interactions will bridge the gap between research and practice, deepening our understanding of the gendered nature of workplaces and its implications for teams, systems, and productivity. By hosting the conference in South Africa for the first time, it provides a unique opportunity for African voices to be heard such as Prof Kopano Ratele and Prof Dorit Posel,” says Bosch.

Marginalised gender identities encompass women, non-normative heterosexual men, and the LGBTQ+ community, intersecting with various factors such as race, ethnicity, age, religion, class, ability, nationality, geospatial and socioeconomic background, educational attainment, and job type.

Prof Bosch, along with co-convenors Prof Ameeta Jaga from the University of Cape Town, Prof Nasima Carrim from the University of Pretoria, and Dr Faith Ngunjiri from Kenya, intends to strengthen the connection between research and practice, fostering a comprehensive understanding that workplaces are inherently gendered, affecting teams, innovation, systems, and productivity.

Over 350 academic papers will be presented by scholars from over 45 countries worldwide, including Finland, Germany, Brazil, Iceland, Sweden, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, the USA, the UK, and more. The conference will bring together intellectual activists, academics, and scholars, generating new knowledge for feminist, queer and management studies.

Historically hosted in the UK, the GWO conference is an extension of the esteemed journal of the same name, which serves as a leading source of evidence-based data on gendered power and gender identity in organisational studies. With its international recognition, the journal breaks down barriers in thinking, concepts, and approaches to understanding workplace management, enabling leaders to create inclusive and welcoming environments where everyone can thrive.

To register for any part of the conference visit GWO


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