'To do or not to do (gender)' and changing the sex-typing of British theatre

2016-06-01T08:51:44Z (GMT) by Dan Sage Catherine Rees
Concepts of doing, and undoing, gender have become increasingly prevalent within studies of sex-typed work. However these concepts, as currently figured and applied, contain a significant analytical lacuna: they tend not to register changes in the sex-typing of work. In this study we engage this research gap by addressing the changing sex-typing of British Theatre – specifically, the shift from female dominated amateur to male dominated professional theatre work. We draw upon, and develop, concepts of doing and undoing gender to understand changes in the sex typing of work. In so doing, we explain how spatially and temporally differentiated ways of doing ‘male’ and ‘female’, become implicated in how people make sense of, and enact, the changing spaces and times of ‘amateur/female’ ‘professional/male’ work. Our analysis of theatre work suggests that, despite recent criticisms of their wider significance, concepts of un/doing gender, are useful to understand broader changes in the sex-typing of work. Thus, it also appears possible to (un)change such sex-typings by undoing gender. However, our analysis suggests, such subversive acts remain ineffective, unless those involved in such gendered undoings engage with, rather than renounce, the gendered doings that help enact the changing sex-typing of work.