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Challenging male dominance through the substantive representation of women: the case of an online women’s mentoring platform

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ana Lopes



This article analyses the design of an online mentoring platform - for women by women - in a high-technology, male-dominated UK industry: aviation and aerospace. Based on interviews with professionals and managers, we analyse the journey of the women involved and contribute to the understanding of the role of women (individually and collectively) in challenging gendered norms in a male-dominated industry through the theoretical lenses of ‘critical actors’ and ‘critical mass’. We combine these concepts, usually seen as mutually exclusive, to explain the success of the online platform. We show how a small number of self-selected critical actors represented, listened and responded to the needs of the women in their industry, thus achieving the substantive representation of women. We also argue that while critical actors were key to its inception, the mentoring platform now needs a critical mass of women to ensure its success.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Durbin S, Lopes A, Warren S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: New Technology, Work and Employment

Year: 2020

Volume: 35

Issue: 2

Pages: 215-231

Print publication date: 01/07/2020

Online publication date: 25/06/2020

Acceptance date: 06/04/2020

Date deposited: 13/05/2020

ISSN (print): 0268-1072

ISSN (electronic): 1468-005X

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/ntwe.12166


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