Feminism through the market ? A study of gender-equality consultants in France

Soline Blanchard

Article de Soline Blanchard in Gender, Work & Organization, vol. 29, issue 2, 2022.

This article explores the professional subjectivities of gender-equality (GE) consultants in France based on 63 interviews. A central concern is how these experts shape positions when working on a topic at the crossroads of personal, political, and economic stakes – in organizational and business contexts that are reluctant to embrace any feminist-like perspective.

Questioning the rationales for entering this market activity, the ways to embody professional work and service impact self-assessment, the analysis highlights the tensions and dilemmas experienced by GE consultants in terms of aligning convictions and business imperatives, and the pragmatic and variable arrangements they make on a daily basis to put GE principles into practice.

This research documents GE work by reanalyzing colliding dyads such as work/activism, professionalism/feminism, co-optation/resistance, and by reviewing the use of market logics in subverting the existing gender/economic order. It draws a nuanced picture of the constraints and opportunities that GE consulting offers to destabilize power from within organizations.

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