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Mind your attitude: the impact of patriarchy on women’s workplace behaviour

Toyin Ajibade Adisa (School of Business and Law, University of East London, London, UK)
Fang Lee Cooke (Monash Business School, Monash University, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia)
Vanessa Iwowo (Birkbeck University of London, London, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 6 December 2019

Issue publication date: 19 March 2020




By conceptualising patriarchy in the workplace as a social situation, the purpose of this paper is to examine the prevalence of patriarchal attitudes and their impact on women’s workplace behaviour among Nigerian organisations.


The study uses a qualitative research approach, drawing on data from 32 semi-structured interviews with female employees and managers in two high-street banks in Nigeria.


The study finds that patriarchy shapes women’s behaviour in ways that undermine their performance and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB). Furthermore, the study finds that patriarchal attitudes, often practised at home, are frequently transferred to organisational settings. This transference affects women’s workplace behaviour and maintains men’s (self-perceived) superior status quo, whereby women are dominated, discriminated against and permanently placed in inferior positions.

Research limitations/implications

The extent to which the findings of this research can be generalised is constrained by the limited sample and scope of the research.

Practical implications

The challenges posed by the strong patriarchy on women’s workplace behaviour are real and complex, and organisations must address them in order to create a fairer workplace in which employees can thrive. It is therefore essential for organisations to examine periodically their culture to ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, are involved in the organisation’s affairs. Furthermore, organisations need to help women become more proactive in combating patriarchal behaviour, which often affects their performance and OCB. This requires organisations to affirm consistently their equal opportunities, equal rights and equal treatment policies. It is essential that organisations take this problem seriously by attaching due penalty to gender discrimination, as this will go a long way in ensuring positive outcomes for women and providing a fairer workplace.


This study provides empirical evidence that a more egalitarian work environment (in Nigerian banking) will result in improved performance from female employees and organisations. It calls for greater policy and organisational interventions to create a more inclusive work environment and an equal society.



Adisa, T.A., Cooke, F.L. and Iwowo, V. (2020), "Mind your attitude: the impact of patriarchy on women’s workplace behaviour", Career Development International, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 146-164.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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