Sexual difference and industrial relations research

Publication Year:
1990
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Repository URL:
https://ro.uow.edu.au/commwkpapers/317
Author(s):
Nyland, Chris
paper description
Prior to the mid 1970s scholars in the discipline of women's studies, tended to be dismissive of those who claimed that biological differences between the sexes were of great social significance. Since this period, however, this tendency has become much less pronounced with numerous scholars arguing that analysts need to give serious consideration to studying the manner and extent to which men and women differ biologically. It is argued that examination of this question is necessary if our understanding of women's social position is to be advanced. This intellectual development constitutes a significant departure from the previous prevalent position in women's studies. It is also a shift away from many of the ideas accepted in other social science disciplines. In most areas of relevant industrial relations research, for example, it is normally accepted that apart from the ability to give birth there are no major biological differences between men and women that seriously influence the specifics of the employment relationship. A recent example of the state of play within the discipline was provided by the Autumn 1989 edition of the Industrial Relations Journal. This was a special edition dedicated to the study of women in the employment relationship. None of the contributors, however, appear to be aware of the developments in women's studies as regards the study of the social significance of sexual difference for this issue did not even rate a mention.