Female jobs. Male jobs. The job market is genderised, but how far is it still sexist?
Sexism has become more and more imperceptible, elusive and difficult to demonstrate. One perceives it but it cannot be seized; one experiments but often it cannot be reported. The marginalisation of women is certainly less brazen and widespread than just forty years ago, but perhaps it is just for this reason, more dangerous and insidious. So, sexism permeates even the contemporary world of work, camouflaging itself silently within defined markets of borders that remain invisible to our gaze, at least until someone – male or female – challenges the rules (deliberately, by chance or out of necessity) and oversteps them.
So, what happens to the women who challenge the symbolic order by overstepping these borders that are as much invisible as persistent?
What does it mean to be a woman in jobs that society persists in thinking of and representing as “male”. “Jobs for men”?
Some women, extraordinary in our opinion, have chosen to tell us about their struggles, the hurdles, the (too) often found aggressiveness, but also their dreams, their pride and their passion. They did so with enthusiasm and generosity, giving us pictures, thoughts and words that we will try to share.
Research and texts: Emanuela Abbatecola
Photographs: Associazione Culturale 36° Fotogramma
The visual sociology laboratory of the University of Genoa was born from a desire to experiment and from a curiosity for research techniques considered non standard, but also from a widespread intolerance of an academic production that toils to leave the walls of the university and measure itself with a wider public. Audiovisuals and photography are, from this point of view, more immediate languages, capable of communicating at different levels. See all »
Photography and sociology were born in the same period of history (the second half of the nineteenth century) and share the same curiosity with regard to society. From this point of view, it is significant that, in the period 1896-1916, the American Journal of Sociology decided to publish a good 31 articles accompanied by photographs (Faccioli, 2001). See all »
MALE JOBS, SEXISM AND OTHER STEREOTYPES
The exhibition, outcome of a project of visual sociology coordinated by Emanuela Abbatecola, is the result of the cooperation carried out by the Laboratory of Visual Sociology of the University of Genoa and 36° Fotogramma Photographic Society, with the support of the Genoa Municipality.
The project, which investigates sexism in the world of work and the difficulties encountered by women doing jobs that society continues to represent as male, includes portraits of women employed in “men’s” jobs taken in their working context and quality interviews, some extracts of which, recited over the pictures, are proposed in the exhibition.
Castello di San Giorgio Canavese
1° Forum internazionale delle donne al governo della politica e dell’economia
Dal 30 giugno – 2 Luglio 2016
University of Illinois at Chicago Science and Learning Center 845
W Taylor Street, M/C 180 Science & Engineering South Building Chicago, IL 60607
27 AUGUST 2015
I.T.T. Michelangelo Buonarroti, Via Brigata Acqui 15, Trento
15 NOVEMBER 2014 – 31 JANUARY 2015
Palazzo Ducale, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti 9, Genoa
8-24 NOVEMBER 2013
See the gallery of photos of the inauguration »
When sexual bodies cross the invisible, symbolically insurmountable, borders that make up the labour market, sexism, ever present, but usually impalpable and silent, re-emerges forcefully as if to re-establish a violated order.
Women and men who choose (or find themselves) in jobs not culturally conforming to their own gender, violate an unwritten symbolic domain, in both cases bringing into discussion the power of male over female, as if such a domain were weakened by contamination with the female in non-neutral environments. See all »
The invalidation often starts as a form of disclosed prejudice, for which entering a profession is refused to a woman since she is a woman. In this case, Her request results so implausible and outrageous to the eyes of the employer so as to not even need to be concealed. See all »
The dominating culture induces us to imagine sexuality as an element founding the identity of man and a potential instrument of power over women and over masculinities considered weak. Male sexuality, thus is, still as a duty, to confirm to oneself and to others – in first place to other men (Kimmel, 2002) – of being suitably male. See all »
The central position of women’s bodies very often appears as the fulcrum of the construction processes of female identity, thereby becoming a sort of device for construction of the boundaries of gender and power.
A woman’s body, as we were told, is very often the subject of unwanted attention, a symptom of a sexist vision of the relations between genders, and when insistence becomes too unbearable, a body becomes a heavy burden to carry, so it needs to be disguised. See all »
Living with the sexist climate of some places is tiring, and a body easily becomes a scene to be prepared. Resistance strategies can be different. I can wear a mask-dress (Stagi, 2010) so as to interpret femininity suitable for the male imagination, annulling or dosing my female traits. See all »
The Italian language usually declines all professions that are not specifically female as male, especially if they are authoritative and/or prestigious, even if reference is to a person of female gender. The justification adopted is that male is grammatically neutral. In reality the motivation is more complex and regards the hierarchisation of female and male in our symbolic domain. See all »
The Visual Sociology Laboratory of the University of Genoa is an experimental space born from the need to use photography and audiovisuals as languages for the dissemination of the results of social research, and the still camera and video camera as investigation tools.
Sociologist, associate professor and editor in chief of AG–AboutGender, International Journal on Gender Studies (www.aboutgender.unige.it/ojs), teaches sociology of labour at DISFOR, School of Social Sciences of the University of Genoa.
Her research activities mainly concern labour, migrations, trade and discrimination in a gender perspective, topics on which she is working on national and European research projects and she has written numerous papers.
Since 2008 she has been an active part of the Visual Sociology Laboratory of the University of Genoa (www.laboratoriosociologiavisuale.it), under the scope of which, together with her colleagues Luisa Stagi and Luca Queirolo, a documentary entitled Yo non me complico, about homophobia, migrant homosexuality and transgender, with the direction of Alessandro Diaco (2010), and an interactive exhibition on women in male professions, with the title Lady Truck. Women at work! (2011).
The 36° Fotogramma Cultural Association was born in Genoa in 1974.
The activity of the association consists of the organisation of collective shows, personal shows, participation in competitions, drawing up of books of photographs, organisation of photography courses and workshops.
Particular consideration is paid to participation in cultural events in Italy in collaboration with public bodies and institutions such as the Municipality and University of Genoa.
Among the most recent activities, one recalls participation on setting up the Festival del Bosco, (Festival of the wood) promoted by the Liguria Regional Authority in collaboration with the European Union (2008); the photographic activity alongside the Festival della Poesia (Festival of Poetry) since 2004 and that under the scope of the jazz festival Giovani in Jazz, in collaboration with the association Jazz Lighthouse and Sestri Jazz (since 2008); the project on the theme of astronomic photography carried out with the Cassini High School in Genoa (2011); organisation of “Immagin’Azione” at the Sant’Agostino museum in Genoa (2011); which witnessed the participation of photographers of international repute in seminars and shows in multi-vision; collaboration with the Festival della Scienza (Festival of Science) in 2012 and with Palazzo Ducale under the scope of La Storia in Piazza (2013).
Exhibition Supervisor: Federico Montaldo
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