Social Dimensions of Gender and Hegemony within Environmental Organisations and Communities

By Yulia Maleta.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article explores the gendered roles and work-based experiences of Australian women advocates participating in environmentalist organisations, communities and movements. The reviewed theoretical interpretations and contemporary empirical data draw upon the collective and individual action of women environmentalists within paid and unpaid capacities, with a specific focus on the third sector, such as NGOs. Qualitative data illuminates the way in which women advocates/activists perform gender and negotiate aspects of hegemonic masculinity/femininity in the workplace and society. The notion of being an advocate or an activist relates to senses of belonging in the local community and identification with world-wide environmental movements. It is argued, in this feminist paper, that environmental advocacy encompasses a complex gendered culture of work, influenced by hegemonic notions of masculinity/femininity, whereby women and men experience commonalities and differences in the workplace/movement. Climate change campaigning, for example, is competently and diligently performed by both genders, although women politicians and grassroots activists have often struggled to negotiate ambitions of social change, sustainability and alternative technologies within global platforms dominated by powerful men, somewhat guided by economic opportunism. However, women advocates and activists continue to play an integral role in the development and strength of the global environmental movement, as they actively voice, protest and engage their concerns against environmental degradation and social exploitation. The paper concludes that the performativity of gender and the negotiation of hegemonic masculinity and femininity along with the intersection of pluralism undoubtedly transforms the agenda and direction of Australian women working within NGOs.

Keywords: Gender, Hegemonic Masculinity/Femininity, Environmental Advocacy, NGOs, Inclusion/Exclusion, Australia

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp.79-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 626.689KB).

Dr. Yulia Maleta

PhD Candidate, Social Justice Social Change Research, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Yulia Maleta is a final year PhD Candidate and casual academic located in Social Justice Social Change Research and the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Her interdisciplinary sociological thesis involves researching the gendered and socio-political experiences of women salaried and voluntary environmentalists participating in diverse paid and unpaid work settings/contexts of the Australian environmental movement. It focuses on qualitative methods, feminist theories/methodologies as well as activist participation and social movement engagement. She has presented her qualitative research findings at reputable conference events, including the landmark Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Queens (Belfast) and in Sydney, Australia, the University of Technological Science (UTS) and Macquarie University. Following her Honours degree, she completed a research internship at the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Her previous feminist research on the socio-cultural roles, identities and experiences of Australian women rural fire fighters in a traditional male vocation has been published in the Journal of Sociology: Maleta, Y. (2009) ‘Playing with fire: Gender at work and the Australian female cultural experience within rural fire fighting,’ Journal of Sociology 45, 3, pp. 291-306. She also has an article currently in press with another Common Ground Publishing journal, ‘The politics of the environment: Australian women’s activism in the Greens party’ (2011) International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.

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