An Investigation Into Sex/Gender Equity And Inclusion In Corporate Training And Development Programmes

Kroese, Ingeborg (2022). An Investigation Into Sex/Gender Equity And Inclusion In Corporate Training And Development Programmes. EdD thesis The Open University.



This study aimed to understand the role of sex/gender in corporate training. Despite significant progress, women are still underrepresented at more senior levels in organisations. The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally impacted women and deepened this pre-existing inequality. Relevant and inclusive learning and development is crucial for career progression, and the main aim of the study was to understand whether current training practices are sex/gender equitable. A review of training theory and conceptual models highlighted that these do not recognise the role of sex/gender in training. In addition, training practice assumes that treating everybody the same, or so-called gender-neutrality of training, equals sex/gender equity. However, a multidisciplinary literature review of 78 empirical studies on sex/gender in training from across the world, revealed that sex/gender impacts access to training, how training is experienced and the outcome of training, in significant ways. Based on the literature review, I developed a sex/gender-sensitive model of training. A case study was conducted, consisting of three training programmes, designed, and delivered in a multinational corporation. A critical sociocultural research lens was adopted, approaching training as an enculturation in the company’s ways of working. The research methodology was qualitative, using semi-structured interviews with female and male training participants, training organisers, and trainers, and training document analyses. In the interviews, reflection statements were introduced to critically interrogate common-sense ways of working. Thematic analysis and a gender subtext analysis highlighted how the discourse of sex/gender-neutrality of training not only risks maintaining the status quo of the underrepresentation of women, but actually produces sex/gender inequity. Based on the case study, the sex/gender-sensitive model of training was further developed to guide how future training research and practice can become more sex/gender equitable. In addition, recommendations for future research are discussed, and a training programme for training organisers and providers is introduced to enable and empower practitioners to bring sex/gender equity into their training.

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