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    Circling the divide: gendered invisibility, precarity and professional service work in a UK Business School

    Seymour, Kate ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6783-1093 (2022) Circling the divide: gendered invisibility, precarity and professional service work in a UK Business School. Gender, Work and Organization. ISSN 0968-6673

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    Abstract

    Within UK Business Schools, there are large numbers of female and feminised white-collar professional service (PS) employees in disproportionately low paid, low status roles but surprisingly they are largely invisible within the literature on sexism and gender inequalities in academia. This paper conceptualises PS experiences by examining how forms of gendered invisibility affect professional staff working in the hybrid ‘third’ space between academic and administrative realms. I develop a conceptual analysis of invisibility – of invisible work and as invisible worker – arising from the performance of professional and academic work. This allows me to analyse and distinguish forms of what I call service, professional and professional-academic housework, demonstrating how these are thoroughly imbricated in dominant patriarchal cultural ideologies of gender. In developing this schema, I draw self-reflexively on my own experiences of ‘circling the divide’ within a UK Business School, developing a rich, multi-perspectival account of the ways visibility and invisibility were experienced in the role of a particular third space professional and ‘academic-in-waiting’. This paper therefore contributes a systematic conceptualisation of gendered invisible housework performed by PS staff within a politicised third space of UK Business Schools. It also brings often hidden PS ‘academics-in-waiting’ into the literature on feminised precarity in the academy.

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