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date: 23 March 2018

Gender vs. Sex

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management. Please check back later for the full article.

“Gender versus sex” highlights how research in business and management can develop a more sophisticated understanding of gender that resonates with contemporary gender theories. An explanation is needed regarding the sex and gender distinction that has dominated second-wave feminism and where gender is socially constructed and sex is biological. This distinction is challenged by postmodern approaches and queer studies. Gender is seen here as fluid across time and space, and performed within the regulatory notions of heteronormativity. Reference is made to the epistemological bases of current gender studies and what they mean in terms of methodology. It is suggested that adopting a gender perspective means going beyond “body counting” to analyze the proportion of women and men in a specific setting, or including sex as a variable in statistical analyses. Gender research also needs to avoid the pitfalls of a narrow, essentialist concept of women and men that draws on a binary understanding of gender. Gender research is commonly sensitive to notions of how power is reproduced and can be challenged. Gender research is also often context sensitive, which means that social processes and structures (macro), organizational and working cultures (meso), or behavior, attitudes, and practices (micro) are explored. Different approaches to analyzing women only, men only, or comparing women and men are explored and considered against the backdrop of intersectionality and queer theory. While much research on gender has been qualitative in nature, it is suggested that quantitative analyses that move beyond seeing sex as a variable and mixed methods research can be fruitfully employed to research gender in business and management.