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Gender diversity and management aspirations in public sector workplaces in Denmark

Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen (Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark)
Mikkel Bo Madsen (Department of Social Work, Metropolitan University College, Metropol, Denmark)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 28 August 2019

Issue publication date: 12 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the relationship between workplace gender diversity among peers and management aspirations among male and female employees. It focuses on whether gender diversity influences men and women’s management aspirations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study builds on cross-sectional survey data from the Danish public sector.

Findings

Results shows that in mixed-gender workplaces, male employees are less likely to express management aspirations than male employees in mono-gender workplaces, but female employees in mixed-gender workplaces express management aspirations to the same – low – degree as female employees in mono-gender workplaces. All in all, the findings show that gender differences in career aspirations are not just a matter of individual preferences and/or macro-structural factors but also a matter of factors at organizational level. The findings suggest both positive and negative implications of gender diversity, and hence problematize a – rather common – simplistic celebration of gender diversity. First of all, gender diversity seems to counteract the fertilization of rigid stereotypes of men and hence prevents some men from being pushed into management positions and a career ladder they perhaps do not want to be placed at in the first place.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposed propositions further.

Practical implications

The findings seem to identify that the challenge of secure a large and qualified pool of potential managers might be even extra challeging for managers in gender-diverse organisations.

Originality/value

A more nuanced view of the implications of gender diversity based on a basic argument of gender-asymmetry. Furthermore, the study are build on a unique dataset that allows to study the implications of gender diversity across a wide range of occupational setting and hence control for occupation specific characteristics.

Keywords

Citation

Nielsen, V.L. and Madsen, M.B. (2019), "Gender diversity and management aspirations in public sector workplaces in Denmark", Gender in Management, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 465-488. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-06-2018-0063

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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