The Gendered Career: An Empirical Study of Discursive Gender Norms for the Behavior of Postgraduates in the Labor Market And How it Qualifies Behavioral Design in an Organizational Context

Amalie Klæstrup Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Revealing a highly gender traditional behavioral pattern, the issue of stereotyping postgraduate men and women in the labor market is focal for society as well as organizations seeking increased diversity in their workforce. Therefore, the purpose of the thesis is to generate knowledge on what influences postgraduates to hold on to the construction of gender stereotypes in their behavioral patterns and whether communicative behavior change initiatives are able to modify this kind of behavior. My research question is: How do gender stereotypes influence the behavior of postgraduates in the Danish labor market? Can it modify and thus, which behavioral change communication initiatives must organizations adopt? To address the research question I apply a discursive analysis theory approach enabling me to explore patterns in the construction of norms related to behavior of the genders in their careers. I further apply a decision process analysis approach enabling me to address how the intuitive minds of postgraduates determine bias construction. Finally, I discuss the role of behavioral design in addressing gender bias as a means to behavioral change. Based on a social constructivist viewpoint, the research has been conducted through a qualitative design of focus group- and individual interviews with female- and male postgraduates in the age of 24-33. As a central point in the research design, some have children and some have not. The research showed how interrelated stereotyped discursive constructions and decision making behavior influence postgraduates to a degree in which women are judged and conceptualized as primary target of the issue of balancing career and parenting. Generating gender bias in the labor market, women’ preconditions in their careers are intuitively assessed to be worse than the preconditions of men. Conclusively, there is a central correlation between gender stereotyping and gender bias, which relationally affects the behavior of the sexes. Utilizing the insight into people's intuitive and heuristic-based decision-making behavior, one has the opportunity to frame the target group for gender-bias-free behavior.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages82