Sociological literature has demonstrated that workplaces may serve as sites of gender regime reproduction, reinforcing broader social attitudes about men and women’s competencies and presumed roles within society. However, scholars have devoted less attention to the study of workplaces in more progressive climates, such as colleges and universities. To fill this gap, I conducted eight hours of participant observation and sixteen interviews with peer tutors and students at an elite private college’s writing center. I situate my study within gender regime theory, scholarship on gender and work, and literature on emotional labor. This study finds evidence for both gender parity and inequity within Elite College’s Writing Center. Men and women tutors engage in comparable amounts of emotional labor, but men are perhaps more resistant to this labor than women. There is also preliminary evidence that tutors may engage in strategies to mask gender dynamics within conferences, such as when women tutors adopt more serious tones with male students or when men tutors sit farther away from female students. Cumulatively, these findings contribute to the literature on gender and work by demonstrating that gender typifications are not as strongly pronounced in social spaces where power is lateralized rather than hierarchical. Furthermore, they lend themselves to policies that might improve the experiences of student employees, such as counseling to prevent burnout and training that prepares women to manage challenging or disrespectful clients.
Type of Work
Thesis - Limited Access
Department or Program
Bachelor of Arts
Date of Graduation
Matthew Grace, Stephen Ellingson
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Salimi, Sarah '20, "When the Tutor Is a Lady: Exploring the Gendered Dimensions of Writing Center Work" (2020). Hamilton Digital Commons.