Research on workplace surveillance highlights managerial initiatives to expand monitoring and make it less obtrusive, but we know relatively little about how to explain workers' diverse responses to monitoring. Using ethnographic data collected at an electronics retailer, I suggest that gender-related status seeking between workers helps to account for variation in workers' experience of and responses to workplace surveillance. Men used surveillance to demonstrate their skill and expertise relative to other men, a process I refer to as manufacturing masculinity. Although women also aspired to be strong and knowledgeable salespeople, they were treated as illegitimate competitors in men's status contests. The company's masculine culture primed workers to interpret surveillance through this gendered lens.
Exploring gender and workplace surveillance