Whistle While You Work? Disney Animation, Organizational Readiness and Gendered Subjugation

Martyn Griffin, Nancy Harding, Mark Learmonth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (SciVal)


This paper introduces the concept of ‘organizational readiness’: socio-cultural expectations about working selves that prepare young people (albeit indirectly and in complex and multi-faceted ways) for their future life in organizations. This concept emerges from an analysis of Disney animations and how they constitute expectations about working life that may influence children through their representations of work and gendered workplace roles. The paper’s exploration of Disney’s earlier animations suggests they circulated norms of gender that girls should be weak and avoid work. In contrast, its contemporary productions circulate gender norms that suggest girls should be strong and engage in paid work. In this reading, the continued circulation of earlier alongside contemporary animations may convey to young viewers a paradox: girls must and must not work; they must be both weak and strong. We thus offer new insights into the puzzle of the continued relegation of women to the sidelines in organizations; more optimistically, we also point to ways in which future generations of employees may forge ways of constituting forms of gendered selves as yet hardly imaginable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-894
Number of pages26
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number7
Early online date26 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • critical management studies
  • diversity
  • domination
  • feminism
  • gender
  • power
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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