Bringing Transgender Issues Into Management Education
by Michael J. Robinson, Chantal Van Esch, and Diana Bilimoria
ACAD MANAG LEARN EDU June 2017 16:300-313; doi:10.5465/amle.2015.0355
In management classrooms, gender is usually discussed in terms of
binaries. Men or women. One or the other.
In reality, though, gender is more complicated. Gender is the
combination of three things: A person's identity; the gender that society
assigns to the person; and the person’s presentation, which is how the person
dresses, behaves, and appears to other people.
Individuals whose current gender identity and gender assignment match are cisgender. Individuals whose current gender identity and gender
assignment do not match are transgender.
Also, beyond the binary of men or women, some individuals have a
gender identity that encompasses aspects of both men and women. Or neither.
Or the gender identity flows between
men and women. This is commonly called non-binary
The experiences transgender people face in the workplace are often
ignored in management classrooms, due to the complexity of the issues, the
discomfort some people have with the topic, or a lack of knowledge, accessible
research, or experience. But by ignoring transgender issues, management
educators are leaving their students unprepared to navigate the diverse
workplaces they will eventually enter.
Our students need the tools and knowledge to understand the issues
that transgender and gender non-conforming people face in the workplace,
especially as popular culture grows toward a greater acceptance of gender
diversity. Yet how do educators address these issues in the classroom
appropriately, effectively and positively, especially if this is new and
unfamiliar to us?
Our paper, “Bringing Transgender Issues into Management Education: A
Call to Action,” lays the groundwork on how educators can teach about these
issues. We give management educators a touchstone of colloquial and academic
language, as well as explanations surrounding gender, the issues transgender
people face daily, and effective workplace practices regarding transgender
We hope our paper sparks interest to include these complex and
important issues in management education classrooms, and provides answers for
educators who need a guiding light to help them teach about transgender issues
in the workplace.