Womxn and the 'Brilliant Jerks' They Work With: Sexism and Policy Knowledge Construction in the Technology Industry

2019-08-15T12:45:31Z (GMT) by Emilly K Martinez
Despite heightened efforts to increase gender parity, organizations in the technology industry are struggling to implement and enact Gender Diversity and Inclusion policies (GDIPs). This purpose of this dissertation was to enhance understandings of obstacles to policy enactment and unearth ways in which organizations can create more equitable work environments. Specifically, this project investigated how members of technology organizations construct knowledge about Gender Diversity and Inclusion policies through their personal experiences, attitudes and beliefs, and interactions with others within and external to their organization. Utilizing a critical-interpretivist and intersectional feminism as ontological and epistemological frameworks, this dissertation study draws from structurating activity theory (SAT; Canary, 2010) and theories of organizational identification (Scott, 2007) to explore issues of policy knowledge construction, implementation, and enactment. Completed in two phases,this dissertation employed a mixed-methods design. Phase One used DeVellis’ (2017) framework to develop a Gender Diversity and Inclusion policy attitude scale (GDIPAS) to evaluate how personal opinions about GDIPs and larger constructs like sexism, feminism, identification, and social desirability contribute to the policy knowledge construction process. Phase Two used a parallel analysis design to quantitatively (i.e., surveys) and qualitatively (i.e., interviews) investigate how members of tech-based organizations construct GDIP knowledge through intra- and extra-organizational interactions, as well as personal beliefs and attitudes (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009). Phase One resulted in five-factors underlying Gender Diversity and Inclusion policy attitude: perception of policy abuse, policy familiarity, perception of workforce gender inequity, policy support, and perception of organizational gender diversity. Results from Phase Two indicated that members of technology organizations interact within and across activity systems to construct knowledge about GDIPs through structural contradictions that (re)produce barriers to policy implementation and enactment.This project contributed to organizational communication theory by investigating the role of organizational identification in the policy knowledge construction process. Further, this dissertation extended SAT by identifying two new structural contradictions and a primary system-level contradiction, and by centralizing power in the investigation of policy knowledge construction. Methodologically, this dissertation offers a new policy attitude measure for scholars and practitioners. Finally, results of this project provide practical insights into barriers to policy implementation and enactment.