Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Research Paper! "An Examination of Transnational Business Masculinities in Forest Management"

When I was a young woman I worked in a computer parts store. I knew how to build a basic computer and of course knew our company's inventory well. One afternoon a gentleman came in to buy some parts for a computer he was building. He asked for several items, one of which I noticed was not compatible with the other parts. I asked him if he was planning on using them all together and he responded that yes, he was. I politely informed him of the conflict and he disagreed with me, getting a little gruff, "I know what I'm doing, it won't be a problem."  
I again stated that there would be a conflict and then he asked something that has stuck with me my entire professional career, "Can I speak to someone who knows what they're talking about. You know, a man?"  
My stunned silence was followed by a, "Sure thing! Hold on just one moment. A technician will be to the counter shortly." I had hatched a little plan.  
Matt, my favorite coworker (and technician) came to the counter and asked him what the issue was. The gruff customer relayed our interaction. Matt confirmed, "So, she told you there was a conflict and you needed a different part?" 
"Yes", the customer replied.  
"Well, she is right", was Matt's reply back and with that he turned around and walked away, leaving the customer staring sheepishly at me.  
I smiled, "Can I ring that up for you?" 
Unfortunately this situation is not unique. It happens all too often. Women are looked over or discounted because of their gender. In business, traits perceived as feminine are often seen as detractors when in fact, they should be considered as a way to temper the aggressive, masculine approach. In forest management, a more balanced construction of roles to include traits like caring, empathy and nurturing could result in a holistic form of management and increased sustainability. Ecofeminism and Forest Defense in Cascadia: Gender, Theory and Radical Activism" (32-49) discusses this idea.  
"A primary tenet of ecofeminism is that the patriarchal values of domination, exploitation, and control must be uprooted and our collective ethical landscape replanted with the more life-sustaining values of nurturance, care and reciprocity-values often identified as 'feminine'. (Although as ecofeminists from Ynestra King to Carolyn Merchant have pointed out, it is paramount that we view such traits as human values which all genders are capable of.) Furthermore, ecofeminism, like other feminisms, contains at its core a critical analysis of power and power relations between dominant groups and those that are marginalized, exposing ways in which certain groups-most notably men, whites, class-privileged elites, and humans-maintain their superior status through the subordination and domination of women, people of color, and the natural world."  
Deforestation – the clearing of forests to use the land for other purposes or to leave it as unused wasteland – is one of the most widespread and important changes that people have made to the surface of the earth. Population growth and the burgeoning demand for food, fiber and fuel have accelerated the pace of forest clearance, and the average annual net loss of forest has reached about 5.2 million hectares in the past ten years (FAO, 2010b). The trajectory of global deforestation has more or less followed the global growth rate of the human population, although the global deforestation rate was more rapid than population growth prior to 1950, and has been slower since then. Deforestation rates grow during times of population and industrial growth, then stabilize or even decrease once society has reached a certain level of wealth.        
Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) are at levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. From 2000 to 2010 emissions were the highest in history. Significant scientific evidence shows that the destruction and clearing of forests, grasslands and wetlands in addition to the burning of fossil fuels, has resulted in a substantial increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth's atmosphere. About half of the cumulative anthropogenic (human caused) CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2011 have occurred in the last 40 years. About 40% of these emissions have remained in the atmosphere since 1750. The rest was removed from the atmosphere by sinks, and stored in natural carbon cycle reservoirs. (IPCC 45) The earth's forests are carbon sinks, that is, they store carbon. A conserved forest not only avoids the release of GHGs, it continues to sequester carbon over its lifetime.   
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives a grim outlook of the future in the summary of their 2014 climate change report: 
"Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emission of green-house gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. {1}   
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen. {1.1} 
In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate {1.3.2} 
Surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level to rise. {2.2}" (2-10) 
The effects of past deforestation cannot be undone, but without efforts now to mitigate the effects of GHGs, there is a high risk of severe, wide-spread and irreversible global impacts. The analysis of mitigation scenarios clearly states that CO2 emissions must be reduced in order to start to reverse global warming. Responsible forest management will need to take the place of less sustainable practices. In order to change the current system, the past and how it has shaped the present need to be looked at.  
Forest management has historically been controlled by the patriarchy. One example to look at that has had its forest management laws and traditions studied extensively is Norway.  The 1989 Census of Agriculture and Forestry reported that 85% of the Norwegian private forest owners were men. In 1990 still only 12% of the forestry employees were women. In the case of Norway, 80% of the total forested area in Norway is family owned. Traditionally, a father would pass his land to the first born son. However, in 1974 an amendment took place, and with that revision the first born child, regardless of sex, was allowed the first priority to absolute ownership of the land. This is one attempt at gender equality but it has still been difficult to recruit women to forestry due to the already established male hierarchy. When women's recruitment to forestry has been discussed, it is argued that they do not need to be recruited to do the same tasks as men. Research on women entering male dominated fields has documented that women have to accommodate to a male culture in both thoughts and practice. They may experience open or hidden, active or passive, resistance from male actors, or community sanctions because they break local gender norms.  
In spite of the advances in women's rights and gender equality, our current system is still based on the traditional patriarchy of the past. While there have been efforts as far back as the 16th century to limit deforestation, they have been limited to only certain areas. The rate of deforestation has essentially gone unchecked in many areas, especially developing countries where traditional patriarchies are still in control. The definition of machismo is "exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled with a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of consequences". Globalization has started to affect the perception and definition of masculinity, but the majority of power is still centered in the former imperial powers, Europe, the United States and Japan. (Hirst and Thompson 1996). R.W. Connell, an Australian sociologist & professor Emeritus at the University of Sydney known for her research on men's studies, hegemonic masculinity and southern theory has suggested the term transnational business masculinity as a descriptor for this new form of masculinity brought on by globalization of business. Through interviews with Australian managers, R.W. Connell found that "there is little of the old bourgeois masculinity-domestic patriarchy, snobbery, social authority, patriotism, religion, and so on". The association with power and preoccupation with the techniques of money remain, however. What is being observed is a shift to a more reflexive way of thinking – recognizing the circular relationship between cause and effect. Masculinity in business is in the process of being redefined and is not set as a hegemonic system yet.  
Rather than simply stating that more women should be in positions of power to increase sustainability, looking at feminine values and how they can affect sustainability should and has been considered. Dutch social psychologist, Geert Hofstede, developed masculinity scores to quantify how masculine a society is and also an Environmental Sustainability Index. Combining the two sets of data does show that the less masculine a society is, the more environmentally sustainable it is. (Casimir and Dutilh 321) In a study of the sustainable agriculture movement in Iowa (2000) scholars found that conventional farmers tend to display more monologic traits (manipulation, control, exploitation, self-serving) of masculinity whereas sustainable farmers display more dialogic (humanistic, communication-centered, relationship focused, ethical) masculinity traits. (Coldwell 88) 
While the idea of including traditionally feminine traits may seem to be playing to gender stereotypes and relying on the social construct of gender, it is more a discussion on balance. Every individual is unique and culturally, the traits we identify as male and female can vary. Some contemporary representations of masculinity seem to indicate that there has been a fundamental shift in men and masculinities to include more feminine traits such as being more emotionally expressive, more sensitive to gendered power sharing, as well as men representing themselves in a less dominant manner. A study done by Julian Jooste in 2008 "indicated that this fundamental shift might be a misleading notion to some extent" and that although certain hegemonic ideals, linked to the more global transnational business masculinities are changing, other general values linked to dominance have remained.  
Climate change is a very real and present threat. Any arguments on the subject have been laid to rest due to recent data. There needs to be mitigation of the carbon and GHGs being released into the Earth's atmosphere. One possible mitigation option is carbon sequestration which involves conservation of natural ecosystems. Having more balanced roles and a more dialogic view in forest management would lead to greater sustainability. Already, the perception of masculinity and traditional patriarchies are adapting to globalization and other forces. Actively including what are perceived as feminine traits – reciprocity, caring, nurturing - could lead to an even more balanced form of masculinity and gender equality in forest management.   
Page Break 
Works Cited 
BrandthBerit and Haugen, Marit S. "From lumberjack to business manager: masculinity in the Norwegian forestry press. (Social Economy of Rural Life)." Journal of Rural Studies 16.3 (2000): 343. Web.   
Casimir, Gerda and Dutilh, Chris "Sustainability: a gender studies perspective" International Journal of Consumer Studies 27, 4 (Sep 2003) 316-325  
Coldwell, Ian "New Farming Masculinities" Journal of Sociology 43-1 (2007) 87-103  
Connell, R.W. "Globalization and Business Masculinities." Men and Masculinities 7.4 (2005): 347-64. Web.  
FAO. 2010b. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 – main report. FAO Forestry Paper No. 163. Rome.  
Hirst, Paul, and Grahame Thompson. 1996. Globalization in Question: The international economy and the possibilities of governance. Cambridge, UK: Polity  
Jooste, Julian "Professional Men's Expressions of Their Masculine Identity" University of the Witwatersrand (2008)   
Mallory, Chaone "Ecofeminism and Forest Defense in Cascadia: Gender, Theory and Radical Activism" Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 17.1 (Mar 2006): 32-49 

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