Sexuality, gender and culture

In this group we discuss projects and literature that understand sexuality and gender as interwoven with culture in complex ways. Participants are students and employees working with projects or interested in developing projects in this field.

The participants work with different theoretical approaches, and are concerned with understandings of sexuality, gender and sexual practises within various contexts. These contexts might be social, literary, artistic, scientific or political.

Coordinator: Agnes Bolsø

Research projects with their starting point in this research group:

  • Is homosexuality a trend?

In this project Norwegian youth is interviewed about sexual practises and interpretations of sexual practises.

Project leader: Agnes Bolsø

  • Power and Privilege, Meaning and Management - Gender in the Board Room

The last "gender bastion" in Norway is the lack of women in innovation and economic life. Social scientist from Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU and Center for rural research will explore the fact that women are scarce in the board rooms of corporate life.

Norway and the other Nordic countries are internationally known to be a region with a high degree of equality between the sexes. However, despite this, there is a lack of women in management positions in the corporate sector. This is in many ways is the last bastion of the battle for gender equality in our country. Women are well represented in working life and they hold leading positions in politics. But, their presence in "higher" business management is rare.

The project consists of three related projects, all addressing this challenge from different perspectives; gender studies, rural studies and cultural studies. The researchers are posing questions about the implications of gender, sex and sexuality on decision-making in the context of recent legislative changes:

- Are cultural understandings of gender equality reproduced or changed by the implementation of the new Act?

- Is there a hegemonic culture of decision making, and if so: Will there be changes when more women enter the board rooms?

- How is the way women are performing their professional work and their relationship to their colleagues influenced by sexuality and eroticity?

- How does sexuality and eroticity affect women's influence in their work places?

Power and Privilege, Meaning and Management - Gender in the Board Room is a cooperative scheme between Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU, Center for rural research and Department of sociology and political science, NTNU.


Project leader:
Associate professor
Agnes Bolsø
Tlf. 73 59 17 27

Hilde Bjørkhaug
Norsk senter for bygdeforskning
Tlf. 73 59 17 81

Women on board. Changing Balance – Changing Beliefs?

This project investigates the current Norwegian debate on gender representation in boardrooms. Through a focus on problem representations and gender norms, the conceptualisation of "gender equality" will be explored.

In December 2003 a clear all-party majority of the Norwegian Government
passed legislation instructing publicly owned enterprises and publicly limited companies (PLC) to obtain a minimum of 40 percent of respectively men and women represented on their boards. A two years trial period were set to encourage the companies to meet the demand voluntarily. By the end of 2005 only 18 percent of the PLC's had achieved the goal that was set. This situation led to a growing focus on the recruitment of women as board members followed by a heated debate over required affirmative actions. Still, the percentage of female board members is rising at a slower speed than anticipated, and by mid 2007 only 57 percent of all PCLs fulfil the requirement.

Norway has relatively long traditions in regulating gender equality by law, but now also the business sector has, for the first time, been instructed to fulfil gender quotas. Parallel to this extension in gender equality regulation the concept of diversity has evolved and become central in the management discourse. This project deals with the intersection between the concept of diversity established in the corporate sector and the concept of gender equality and attempts to shed light on the contemporary development of gender balancing the boardrooms.

The analytical approach of the project will be discourse analysis with a focus on problem representations. The effects of competing problem understandings will be discussed and conditions within both formal and informal government will be explored. Political documents and debates, media texts, in-depth interviews and professional literature dealing with the subject of board composition will constitute the empirical material for analysis.

Research fellow
Siri Øyslebø Sørensen