University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies

University of Surrey

Investigating the theory and practice of gender and sexuality in the workplace

12th–13th June 2008, University of Surrey

Workshop Report

Aims and objectives of the conference

Empirical and theoretical work around gender and sexualities is an important feature of the intellectual labour both at the University of Surrey and the wider academic community, both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, as some of this research indicates (for example, Hearn et al, 1997; Hochschild, 1996; Guckman and Reed, 1997; Ward and Winstanley, 2005; Williams, Giuffre and Dellinger, 1999), gender and sexuality are deeply embedded in both the meaning and practice of work in terms of work experience and identity. Hearn and Parkin (1987) argue that the organization of work both structures, and is structured by gender and sexuality. Understanding the interconnection of work, gender and sexuality is especially significant at a time when, as Pheonix and Oerton (2005) argue, there is an intensification of the regulation of sexual conduct within work at both the level of the formal and the semi-formal.

Despite the diversity and volume of research on gender and sexuality in the workplace, disciplinary boundaries and conventions often result in connections remaining unacknowledged, or unexplored. Multifarious changes in society require increased dialogue between academics in different disciplines in order to properly interrogate the inter-relationship between forms of employment, practices of work, and gender and sexuality. Likewise, discussions between academics and policy makers and practitioners are important for the formation of policy and research agendas that address many of the challenges within this area, and as such are in keeping with ESRC's aim of encouraging knowledge transference between academics and practitioners.

Therefore the aim of the seminar was to provide a forum for academics from a variety of different backgrounds, alongside relevant practitioners, to discuss current research in this area, ultimately leading to the development of new links and research partnerships.

The workshop participants

The participants

The two-day international event was held at the University of Surrey on 12-13 June 2008. 39 participants attended the seminar, and we are delighted to say that the following countries were represented: Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Scotland and the USA, thus helping to make it a truly international event. We wish to thank all our speakers and presenters for contributing to the event from their different perspectives. Our thanks extend likewise to our colleagues from Surrey, other universities and organisations who attended simply because they were interested in listening and participating in discussions. The themes and issues we explored during the conference were of global significance and therefore demanded an analysis that is not limited by national concerns or border. Therefore, we would like to extend a particular thank you to all those who travelled from outside the UK to attend the conference.

Programme of events

Over the two days we heard an excellent set of papers representing a broad range of disciplinary approaches. In addition to the very exciting set of plenary speakers: Michelle Fullerton (Stonewall, UK), Maggie O'Neill (Loughborough University), Sylvia Walby (Lancaster University), and Kath Weston (University of Tokyo), we heard a further 19 papers on a range of topics related to the conference theme.



We have plans for a selection of conference papers to be published in a special section of Sociological Research On-Line. The conference also served as a starting point for the re-launch of the European Sociological Association's Research Network on Sexualities. Please contact Ann Cronin at for details about the research network.


The conference organisers wish to extend our thanks to Mirela Dumic, our conference administrator and to the Institute of Advanced Studies for providing funding for this conference.

This conference was organised by members of the Sociology Department, (Ann Cronin and Paul Johnson) The Centre for Research in Nursing and Midwifery Education (Helen Allan) and The Centre for Learning Development (Trevor Welland) at the University of Surrey.

1 December, 2008