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A focus on gender similarities in work experiences in senior management: A study of an Australian bank builds the case

Isabel Metz (Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia)
Alan Simon (University of Western Australia Business School, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia)

Equal Opportunities International

ISSN: 0261-0159

Article publication date: 27 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a shift in emphasis from gender differences to gender similarities in the explanations of the findings of future gender in management research. The results from a study in a major Australian bank help build the case. Such a focus on gender similarities (FGS) hopefully will bring about positive organizational change that might stimulate an increase in women's representation in senior management in the future.

Design/methodology/approach

To make a case for the proposed FGS approach the paper uses results from a survey of 178 senior managers and interviews with 14 executives in one Australian bank. The paper draws on the masculine culture and organizational silence literatures to explain how women and men in senior management can have similar work experiences and hold similar views of their organizations.

Findings

The paper finds that male and female respondents held similarly unfavorable views of the organization's culture, but men felt constrained in raising concerns. Most executives would welcome a change of culture.

Research limitations/implications

The research study in banking is included specifically to show how the proposed FGS approach works in gender in management research. A limitation of the study is the small interview sample. The finding on men's silence is particularly pertinent to the argument for organizational change that benefits the whole organization, not just women.

Practical implications

The FGS approach broadens the appeal of change for organizations. For example, by applying the FGS approach to the study in banking, the principal message for organizations would be that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the outdated command‐and control management style, extremely long hours, and lack of work‐life balance. Organizations are more likely to address findings of “widespread dissatisfaction” than of dissatisfaction in a section of the workforce (e.g. women).

Originality/value

The recognition that a shift in the approach to the study of gender in management is needed to stimulate organizational change that might increase women's representation in senior management. The study shows how men will also benefit from this shift in emphasis, because the explanations and recommendations emanating from future research using the FGS approach will give men a much needed voice to raise issues that are similar to those raised by their female colleagues.

Keywords

Citation

Metz, I. and Simon, A. (2008), "A focus on gender similarities in work experiences in senior management: A study of an Australian bank builds the case", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 433-454. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610150810882297

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited