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The Business Case of Gender Equality in Swedish Forestry and Mining ‐ Restricting or Enabling Organizational Change

Forestry and mining constitutes an important part of Swedish basic industry. These industries are heavily male‐dominated and are expressing an ambition to become more gender equal and less gender‐segregated, arguing that this could strengthen their competitiveness in a number of areas. In this article we explore how company representatives construct gender equality as a business case and discuss how these constructions restrict and/or enable gender equality in these organizations. Departing from a social constructivist understanding of how language (re)produces gendered power relations in the workplace, the empirical basis of this paper consists of eight interviews with respondents who possess special insights into, and being of strategic importance to, gender equality issues in forestry and mining companies. In our analysis we found three dominant dimensions of the business case of gender equality Marketing (as) gender equality, Uncovering the male norm and Gender equality as a depoliticized value. We conclude that the business case framing facilitates for the companies to engage in issues of gender equality. However, issues concerning conflicting interests and power relations seem to be difficult to address within the business case discourse. This we argue affects and shapes the terms for gender equality in these organizations.

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