Professionalism and sexual identity
DOI link for Professionalism and sexual identity
Professionalism and sexual identity book
One of the main ways in which workers constructed boundaries within work, and between work and other parts of their life, was through internalised ideas about ‘being professional’. There were several ways in which the idea of professionalism was expressed in boundary making. One of the most obvious was in its articulation through organisational guidelines: such rules provided workers with a framework to guide professional conduct and enforced ideas about acceptable behaviour. In fact the need to be seen to ‘be professional’ was one of the main reasons given for having boundaries and workers stated that they were continually told by their managers to draw boundaries in order to be professional:
I know that I have to have boundaries because I am a professional in that sense. (Sanjay, East)
[Boundaries are] about being effective, about I’d say professional … about delivering quality and effective services. (Nick, London)
Despite the emphasis many placed on ‘being professional’, the relationship between professionalism and sexual identity raised numerous tensions and issues. In fact, workers had very different feelings about this relationship:
This one I feel I have difficulty with. I’ve seen people who are in similar jobs and they have very different titles: ‘Senior health promotion specialist for gay men’. What does that mean? What would that say to people? … . That sounds as if it’s, you know, I’m up here, everyone else is down there. That I’m a professional first and foremost, and only a gay man by chance. I think when you over-professionalise this area of work, you run into a problem where … you distance yourself from the grassroots. And in particular in this project, it’s community development, we’re supposed to be grassroots and bottom up led. Then, you know, calling yourself a professional constantly is not aiding that process at all.