This paper examines the creation of women-only organizational spaces as a diversity practice and assesses their potential to facilitate the workforce inclusion of religious women from gender-conservative groups. Based on longitudinal fieldwork in two ultra-Orthodox-Jewish women-only colleges in Israel and interviews with students and staff, we demonstrate how this practice constitutes three types of liminality—spatial, social, and epistemic—that enable ultra-Orthodox women to move unimpeded between a familiar, religious environment and a secular one. In this protected and carefully curated environment, they feel safe and are able to develop new identities relevant to the secular labor market while maintaining or even enhancing their traditional, religious sense of self. The liminal space of the college reinforces their sense of belonging to a space of their own and serves as a bridge that helps them cope with the secular world.
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© 2023 The Authors. Gender, Work & Organization published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- liminal identities
- liminal places
- safe spaces
- ultra-Orthodox women