Strategic flexibility in a male-dominated occupation: women software engineers in China

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article builds on a rich literature on the gender gap in software engineering. It further contextualizes the gendering of development work in the Chinese high-tech industry, especially the prevalent overwork norm. The perpetuation of male ascendency is achieved through the gendered hierarchization of subspecialties in software engineering and the embodiment of the geek culture. Nevertheless, women show their resilience and strength in navigating their careers in this male-dominated occupation. This article reveals female programmers’ strategies: flexible assimilation, flexible embodiment, and flexible career development. By this strategic flexibility, the article highlights women’s agency in tactically negotiating gender rules and transgressing gender boundaries in a male-dominated occupation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-342
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Software engineering
  • female engineers
  • gendered occupation
  • overwork
  • women’s agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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