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Maternal Body work: How Women Managers and professionals negotiate pregnancy and new motherhood at work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2013
JournalHuman Relations
Journal number5
Volume66
Number of pages24
Pages621-644
Early online date5/03/13
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article builds on the theorizing of body work through introducing a new concept: ‘maternal body work’. In so doing, it shows how progress towards a feminist politics of motherhood within organizations remains limited. Despite decades of feminist scholarship, dissonances remain between the private worlds of reproduction and public worlds of organization. With regard to this limited progress, the article reveals how, among a sample of 27 mothers (all professionally and managerially employed in the UK), 22 felt marginalized and undervalued at work, experiencing the borders between maternity and organization as unmalleable. By contrast, five women treated borders between reproduction and organization as more fluid than anticipated. Setting a high
value on their skills, they developed strategies for parrying unfavourable revisions
of their status. The article concludes by considering the potential development of
resources for enhancing maternal coping strategies.