A Seat at the Table and a Room of Their Own: Interconnected processes of social media use at the intersection of gender and occupation

Published: 13 November 2020

Author: Emmanuelle Vaast

Publication: Organization Studies, Forthcoming


Social media have enabled people to connect with others in unprecedented ways. Existing scholarship has so far provided conflicting insights regarding what people do with these connections. Here I propose that to make sense of what people accomplish with social media-enabled connections, one needs to examine more closely their foundations. Specifically, one key way to understand social media-enabled connections is to consider how social media enable people to come together on the basis of joint social identities. This study focuses on how people use social media in ways that connect them to one another at the intersection of gender and occupational identities, i.e. two social identities that have been central to many organization studies and are critical in today’s societies. The study relies upon the qualitative investigation of how women and gender non-binaries data scientists used social media. The study reveals that, at the intersection of gender and occupation, people use social media to engage in three interconnected processes of promoting inclusion, co-producing equalizing resources, and fostering exclusive enclaves. It brings light to new ambivalence reflected in people’s uses of social media as they seek, simultaneously, to reshape gender dynamics in their occupation and to protect their reputation as competent workers. It unpacks why and how, with social media, the professional and the political have become intertwined.

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