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affective gendered organizing, career identity, emotional labor, resilience, high-tech careers

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The questions of why there are so few women in engineering and how to change engineering cultures to be more inclusive have garnered much social scientific research and considerable funding. Despite numerous findings and interventions, no studies to our knowledge have analyzed how difference is constituted discursively, materially, and affectively in ways that are deeply embedded in engineering occupational and societal cultures. This study takes an affective gendered organizing approach to analyze how affect is constituted through emotions/talk, interactions, and materialities. Using constructivist grounded theory, we explored our interview data of 69 engineers (45 women and 24 men) to find three themes. The first describes women’s sensate experiences that underlie their expressions of (un)belongingness and (in)visibility. The second depicts men’s emotional labor to voice inclusion while enacting exclusion. The third pulls these feelings forward as the impetus for women’s constitution of feminist third spaces/places that operate as sites of collective emotional labor and resilience. Throughout we display the contradictory and essential embodiment of affect within individuals’ identities and as a sensemaking force that continues to constitute organizing systems of inequity. Taking an affective gendered organizing approach enables researchers and practitioners to respond more fully to the question of why inclusion is so difficult to achieve and to develop sustainable interventions for women’s career success in STEM.

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Sustainability, v. 15, issue 6, art. 5051

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