Retailing as a sector employs many women and serves a female‐dominated customer base. It also employs proportionately more women in management positions than in other occupational sectors. However, at senior levels, the proportion of women to men diminishes. This paper aims to examine the perceived facilitators and problems of senior retail managers' career development in order to see if it offers any insights for others to achieve senior managerial positions.
The main research instrument was a quantitative questionnaire with 124 UK senior retail managers.
The findings revealed that apparently more similarities than differences were reported by the men and women senior retail managers. These findings need to be treated with some caution however given that retailing operates in a strong masculine culture. Therefore, to assume that men and women encounter similar facilitators and problems ignores that they are being compared against a norm of male characteristics and values.
The senior women may have achieved their positions by ignoring their feminine characteristics and putting their career before their personal lives; they may have adopted the male cultural norms and developed a style top management are more comfortable with, else they may have more characteristics that are closer to the male norms than the average woman. Men further down the hierarchy may also suffer and may not achieve senior positions because they too are not prepared to conform to idealised and outdated male cultural norms.
The contribution of this paper is its concentration on the views and experiences of retail managers in senior positions, as these are the ones who have seemingly broken through the glass ceiling.
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