The purpose of this article is to examine how stereotypical gender perceptions relate to employees with physical impairments. This is done by investigating how employees and managers in 13 Danish work organizations draw on stereotypical perceptions of femininity when they talk about their colleague with cerebral palsy, and by examining how these stereotypical perceptions influence the work lives of the participating employees with cerebral palsy — as seen from their own perspective.
The empirical point of departure is an interview study conducted in 2013 with 13 employees with cerebral palsy, 44 colleagues and 19 managers. In contrast to the findings of much research on gender and work, this study finds that stereotypically feminized perceptions of employees with cerebral palsy as weak, in need of help, etc., are linked to the impairments of the employee rather than his or her biological sex or the specific gender norms of the particular industry.
The analysis of this article thus contributes to increase our understanding of gender processes in work organizations. More specifically, the article shows how impairments intersect with gender perceptions; in this case how the study participants with cerebral palsy are expected to relate to and reproduce stereotypically female behaviour — regardless of their biological sex.