News story 3rd Aug 2015

Gender and diversity research strengthened with appointment

With Australia's workers getting older and expected to work longer, increasing knowledge is needed to better understand the physical and emotional life stresses and opportunities facing many women in this growing workforce.

Monash Business School's research into this vital area has been strengthened with the appointment of Professor Gavin Jack to the Department of Management.

With a keen interest in gender and diversity in the workplace, Professor Jack is currently focusing his time on building on the knowledge of women's experiences of menopause in the workplace. This research is gained from a previous project undertaken with colleague Associate Professor Kathleen Riach and a team from La Trobe and Yale Universities.

The pilot program looked at the experiences of women in administrative, professional and academic roles at three universities.

Diversity in the workforce

Experiences of women across diverse industries

Professor Jack said the interest generated since the report was released in September 2014 had been very positive.

"Following the release of the report we have had interest from various organisations, particularly in the health sector, including hospitals, unions, nursing and midwifery, and even some private health care organisations," Professor Jack said.

"We are currently working with a Melbourne hospital and hope to have another two hospitals come on board to do a similar project. This will allow us to study the experiences of women in different environments. You would assume there will be some variations due to the nature of the work. Health care workers do a lot of shift work while the work of those in the higher education sector is predominately sedentary."

Professor Jack said the ultimate aim of the research was to allow the team to develop a certification-style system for organisations.

"The system would recognise those organisations and businesses for being employer-friendly for women in mid-life to old age," he said. Menopause would be only part of a wider set of issues and concerns related to mature-aged women in the workforce. We would hope certification would become a baseline feature of well-managed and leading organisations."

Further research by the team will look at creating interventions for organisations that are investigating what policies, practices, and cultural change would be effective to better support mid-life and mature age women in these workplaces.

"We want to make a difference to organisations and for women going through and coming out of menopause, and more broadly for women in mid- and late career," Professor Jack said.

Developing a better understanding

Professor Jack describes his other research interests as connected to the discipline and practice of international business and cross-cultural management.

With the greater emphasis on companies being involved in international business, there is a need for a better understanding of cross-cultural management and cross-cultural issues between managers from different countries.

Professor Gavin Jack

Department of Management

"I am interested in issues around languages, cultural differences, and the impact of multinational corporations and global neoliberalism on workers, managers and researchers in formerly colonised and neocolonial settings. In this respect, my research brings postcolonial theory and analysis from humanities' disciplines into management and organisational scholarship. International business is taking place in a post-colonial world, but it is still marked by forms of imperialism and colonialism of which Australia is part."

"The ideas, theories and practices that academics create and students are taught come from particular parts of the world that aren't always relevant, particularly from the US and North America, and can be considered forms of cultural imperialism.We need to de-colonise these forms of knowledge and think about what is more locally relevant. And how we teach and research that."

Professor Jack feels the output of the research in this field is about creating different theoretical perspectives for the discipline. Teaching students different case studies and getting them to think about the politics of knowledge and the politics of organisational practice in a post-colonial frame is also beneficial.

In addition to teaching and undertaking research, Professor Jack is an Associate Editor of the journal Organization, and sits on the editorial boards of several leading international journals including Organization Studies, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Language and Intercultural Communication, and Consumption, Markets and Culture. He is immediate Past Chair of the Critical Management Studies Division of the Academy of Management.