Backlash and false progress: exploring gender diversity management in the engineering industry

Whysall, Z. ORCID: 0000-0001-5833-9486 and Foley, E., 2021. Backlash and false progress: exploring gender diversity management in the engineering industry. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Equality and Diversity. ISSN 2396-8532 (Forthcoming)

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Abstract

Recent typological theory highlights potential unintended consequences of diversity initiatives, including backlash and false progress. This study aimed to explore this in relation to gender diversity initiatives, against two critical dimensions: horizontal dimensionality in terms of both majority and minority group attitudes and behaviours, and vertical dimensionality in terms of the impact of initiatives at surface and deeper levels of organisational culture. A mixed-methods design was adopted, comprising a survey of male and female engineers to allow for comparisons between majority and minority groups attitudes, and interviews with internal stakeholders within a global engineering organisation attempting to enhance gender diversity, to explore alignment between diversity initiatives and underlying attitudes, beliefs, and values. The findings revealed that superficial efforts to promote diversity can potentially threaten the perceived legitimacy of such initiatives, creating perceptions of positive discrimination and tokenism. The findings also highlight the importance of alignment between what an organisation espouses (both internally and externally), and how its members truly think and act. These findings support recent theoretical propositions regarding potential negative unintended consequences of diversity initiatives. We propose that to mitigate unintended effects, diversity initiatives must embrace greater horizontal dimensionality through inclusion of majority and minority groups, and vertical dimensionality through effecting change at both surface and deeper levels of organisational culture.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Equality and Diversity
Creators: Whysall, Z. and Foley, E.
Publisher: Heriot-Watt University, School of Management and Languages
Date: 2 November 2021
ISSN: 2396-8532
Identifiers:
NumberType
1486951Other
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 09 Nov 2021 09:04
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2022 09:13
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/44653

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