Click for Academy of Management home page


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 or genderqueer.

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 employees.

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.

Academy of Management
Member Services
Academy of Management
Online Opportunities
Academy of Management