This paper aims to present a model describing how women enact executive leadership, taking into account gendered organizational patterns that may constrain women to perform leadership in context-specific ways.
This paper discusses gendered organizations, role congruity theory and organizational culture and work context. These strands of theory are interwoven to construct a model describing ways in which executive-level women are constrained to self-monitor based on context.
The pressure on women to conform to an organization’s executive leadership culture is enormous. Executive women in strongly male-normed executive leadership contexts must exercise strong gendered self-constraint to break through the glass ceiling. Women in strongly male-normed contexts using lessened gendered self-constraint may encounter a glass cliff. Women in gender-diverse-normed contexts may still operate using strong gendered self-constraint due to internalized gender scripts. Only in gender-diverse-normed contexts with lessened gendered-self-restraint can executive women operate from their authentic selves.
Organizational leaders should examine their leadership culture to determine levels of pressure on women to act with gendered self-constraint and to work toward creating change. Women may use the model to make strategic choices regarding whether or how much to self-monitor based on their career aspirations and life goals.
Little has been written on male-normed and gender-diverse-normed contexts as a marker for how executive-level women perform leadership. This paper offers a model describing how different contexts constrain women to behave in specific, gendered ways.
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