The construction of gender identities in public sector organisations in Latin America : a view of the Dominican Republic

Rodriguez, J. (2010) The construction of gender identities in public sector organisations in Latin America : a view of the Dominican Republic. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 29 (1). pp. 53-77. ISSN 2040-7149 (

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Literature on 'Gender and Organisation' in developing countries is scarce. Furthermore, the experiences and roles of professional educated women have not been thoroughly documented and generalisations are usually identified as women are addressed as one single group. The purpose of this research is to unveil the way in which gender construction is understood and operates within public organisational settings in the Dominican Republic in order to highlight how individuals, particularly women, understand gender and the meaning they assign to gender identities and identify gendered patterns in organisational structures and processes.Design/methodology/approach - Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 women and 13 men from three organisations in the public sector in the Dominican Republic. The research was developed using a feminist poststructuralist methodological framework and used discourse analysis as the main tool for analysing the data. Gender construction and dynamics in Dominican public sector reproduce paternalistic assumptions and beliefs regarding the roles of women and men, which are embedded in Dominican society. Organisational culture operates as a gendered system where sexualised structures and processes perpetuate ideas about male superiority and female inferiority, which translate in expectations of men being dominant and women being submissive. Gendered organisational thinking is identified through reinforced ideas of men as always more powerful than women. Both women and men construct their work identities based on these prescriptive notions of identities as enforced by different aspects of organisational culture; such as occupational segregation, gender roles, organisational rituals and symbols. In that sense, both organisational discourse and practice meet to perpetuate patterns and dynamics that systematically subordinate women. The experience of a group of employees from three public institutions does not necessarily set the grounds to generalise the whole of the public sector all around the country. More importantly, the knowledge produced by this research is situated and cannot be assumed to represent all feminist voices, all feminist voices from developing countries or from the Dominican Republic.Practical implications - The implications of this research are very significant both for gender sensitive employment public policy reform and human resource management practices in the public sector. The research focused on how gender is articulated in organisational culture, situating this problematisation in the public sector in the Dominican Republic, where limited research has been conducted. The paper contributes to the limited knowledge of gender and organisation in the Hispanic Caribbean, particularly the Dominican Republic.