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Acknowledging the female archetype: women managers’ narratives of gender

Su Olsson (Su Olsson is Senior Lecturer in Communication, Department of Human Resource Management, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.)

Women in Management Review

ISSN: 0964-9425

Article publication date: 1 August 2000



Women in management are marginalised by the continuing pervasiveness of heroic masculinism, the traditional and hierarchical form of management, which depicts executives as solitary (male) heroes engaged in unending trials of endurance. This theme of leadership as archetype is strengthened through official organisational myths and stories which function as vehicles of communication management to support organisational goals and to provide role models for aspiring executives. Calls have been made for new forms of writing and more women’s voices in women and management scholarship. Paradoxically, storytelling, which currently supports executive male norms, also provides a potential approach for women in management to break through the dominant masculinist appropriation of leadership. This paper examines women managers’ stories of gender within the context of organisational storytelling and heroic masculinism. These transformational narratives provide parallel but distinctive archetypes to heroic masculinity. At the same time, they present parodic inversions of the “slaying of monster” myths of traditional executive culture. These stories which women tell other women, create resilient images of women’s identities in management.



Olsson, S. (2000), "Acknowledging the female archetype: women managers’ narratives of gender", Women in Management Review, Vol. 15 No. 5/6, pp. 296-302.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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