“The Work of Code Switching: Implications for Gender and Racial Inequity in Employment”

Codes of Conduct - Code Switching and the Everyday Performance of Identity - K. Merinda Simmons

Jackie Krasas [+-]
Lehigh University
Jackie Krasas is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Her scholarship focuses on gender and racial inequality in employment including temporary and contingent work, sexual harassment, and the under representation of women in STEM fields. She is currently co-PI on the NSF ADVANCE Grant at Lehigh University, and is conducting research on gender and interdisciplinary scholarship.

Description

Although the term “code switching” arose in linguistic contexts, its meaning has broadened to include shifting the use of language, interactions, appearance, and the body in all areas of social life. Uncritical applications of the concept of code switching render invisible the normative nature and power dynamics along familiar dimensions of social inequality such as gender and race. “Whiteness” and “maleness” become cast as the neutral standards against which all else is judged and are rarely revealed as the social constructions that they are. The result is the call for non-dominant groups to assimilate. In the employment context, we see this call for assimilation often under the guise of “soft skills,” with particular reference made to the needs of a postindustrial service-oriented labor market. Cast in terms of skill, the heightened demand for code-switching in employment promises to reproduce and even intensify existing labor market inequalities along the lines of gender and race. For example in hiring, there is a reliance on preemployment interviews and other “soft” means of candidate assessment despite the absence of empirical support. The reliance on these methods is a sincere fiction for whiteness and maleness are already embedded in the ostensibly neutral construction of soft skills.

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Citation

Krasas, Jackie. “The Work of Code Switching: Implications for Gender and Racial Inequity in Employment”. Codes of Conduct - Code Switching and the Everyday Performance of Identity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2019. ISBN 9781781791844. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24870. Date accessed: 24 Jun 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24870. Sep 2019

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