Gendered challenge, gendered response: Confronting the ideal worker norm in a white-collar organization

Erin L. Kelly, Samantha K. Ammons, Kelly Chermack, Phyllis Moen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


This article integrates research on gendered organizations and the work-family interface to investigate an innovative workplace initiative, the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), implemented in the corporate headquarters of Best Buy, Inc. While flexible work policies common in other organizations "accommodate" individuals, this initiative attempts a broader and deeper critique of the organizational culture. We address two research questions: How does this initiative attempt to change the masculinized ideal worker norm? And what do women's and men's responses reveal about the persistent ways that gender structures work and family life? Data demonstrate the ideal worker norm is pervasive and powerful, even as employees begin critically examining expectations regarding work time that have historically privileged men. Employees' responses to ROWE are also gendered. Women (especially mothers) are more enthusiastic, while men are more cautious. Ambivalence about and resistance to change is expressed in different ways depending on gender and occupational status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-303
Number of pages23
JournalGender and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Culture
  • Work/family
  • Work/occupations


Dive into the research topics of 'Gendered challenge, gendered response: Confronting the ideal worker norm in a white-collar organization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this