Seksualitet og køn i arbejdslivet: Om bekendelser i arbejdspladskulturer

Rikke Karen Voergård-Olesen

Research output: Book/anthology/thesis/reportBookResearch


This thesis is a study of non-heterosexual women’s work life with a basis in post-structuralist and feminist theory.
The study consists of a discourse analysis of qualitative, semi-structured individual interviews with eight women employed in different fields. The informants are: a postal delivery person, a consultant, a gardener, a college teacher, a call-center worker, an elementary school teacher, a hospital employee, and a staff member of a LGBT organisation.
The thesis concerns itself with how the comprehension and management of sexual and gendered positionings produce certain conditions for women in different workplace cultures. Focus is on how disclosures of non-heterosexuality set the terms for participation in work life. In the analysis, examples are put forward of the ways in which women disclose, are expected to disclose, or do not disclose non-heterosexuality. With queer theory as theoretical inspiration, the analysis shines a light on heteronormativity in workplace cultures. The analysis thus provides insight into how disclosures of non-heterosexuality present special challenges for the women’s participation in work life. It shows how, in different workplace cultures, there exists a requirement for disclosure of non-heterosexuality, while at the same time these non-heterosexual disclosures must be done in certain ways so as not to be understood as inappropriate in the context.
The women must strike a balance between being honest without being (too) peculiar. The study concludes among other things that in the workplace, a host of privileges is associated with workers’ presumed heterosexuality. The analysis shows how different workplace cultures and positioning contexts imply different forms of exclusion with different consequences for different non-heterosexual women. At the same time, the study shows how women, for example through a rights discourse, may be able to negotiate non-heterosexuality as equivalent to heterosexuality. The analysis also shows that it may pose a high risk of exclusion for the individual woman to enter into negotiations on non-heterosexual status in the workplace. Finally, it is indicated from the analysis that the informants’ appearance has a significant effect on the women’s access to privileges and colleague communities. In the concluding sections of the thesis, analysis results are discussed in light of the study’s contribution to and usability in relation to labour market policy and trade union activity with regard to workers’ sexuality. An important point emerges: that in conjunction with further study, a focused effort in the area addressed in the thesis can have potential benefits for both heterosexual and non-heterosexual workers.
Original languageDanish
PublisherRoskilde Universitetscenter
Number of pages127
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

Voergård-Olesen, R. K. (2011). Seksualitet og køn i arbejdslivet: Om bekendelser i arbejdspladskulturer. Roskilde Universitetscenter.