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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Gendering the digitalized metal industry

Johansson, Janet; Morell, Ildiko Asztalos; Lindell, Eva


With an empirical investigation of the Swedish metal industry, this study explores the gendering of metalwork in the context of digitalization. Adopting Butler's notions of gender performativity, and taking a broad feminist perspective, our analysis renders the following findings: first, inequality in the workplace between normative masculine and feminine characteristics is still present in the metal industry. The dominant exploitative expectations of masculine physical strength are gradually being replaced by the persistent masculine association with technology. Both men and women contribute to the confirmation and strengthening of this new masculine attribute. Second, women, through the construction of their sense of self as competent digital steelworkers, take on a vital role in re-formulating the gender script of the digitalized metal industry. By enacting stereotypical feminine aesthetic gestures, using 'housewifely' metaphors parodying masculine discourses, and through deliberately connecting feminine attributes with competences and strengths in technology, female operators subvert the ideal image of a metalworker and disrupt the persistent myth of femininity as being incompatible with technology.


digitalization; gender performativity; metal industry; technology

Published in

Gender, Work and Organization
2020, volume: 27, number: 6, pages: 1321-1345
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Johansson, Janet
Linkoping Univ
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Lindell, Eva
Malardalen Univ

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG5 Gender equality
SDG10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

UKÄ Subject classification

Gender Studies

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