Migrate to (not) be ‘gurus’: Unpacking workplace masculinity in China's tech sector

Xiaotian Li, Jenny Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Through an intersectional analysis of gender, class, and migration, this article reveals how a hegemonic culture of workplace masculinity, embodied by a group of ‘gurus,’ is constructed in China's tech companies. The guru masculinity is characterized by proactivity and aggressiveness at work, ‘putting work first’ and overwork, and the ability to navigate boundaryless careers and settle down in first-tier cities. It translates hegemonic masculine norms of material success, enjoying urban life, and men's breadwinner position in contemporary China on the one hand, and responds to a labor regime of precarious employment relations and prevalent overwork norm on the other hand. The article contributes to the literature on hegemonic masculinity in work organizations by showcasing how a hegemonic masculinity in China's tech workplace is constructed at the conjuncture of hegemonic gender norms at a societal level and the distinct labor regime in the tech sector. It also reveals that many male workers fail to conform to this cultural ideal, experiencing masculine frustration rooted in the nature of the ‘workplace masculinity contest,’ uneven urban development, and the demanding labor regime. It thus opens further discussions on how men resist hegemonic gender norms and construct alternative masculinities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • hegemonic masculinity
  • labor migration
  • tech industry in China
  • workplace masculinity
  • workplace masculinity contest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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