Gender and Management: lessons from recent research

Women in Management Review

ISSN: 0964-9425

Article publication date: 28 August 2007



Broadbridge, A. (2007), "Gender and Management: lessons from recent research", Women in Management Review, Vol. 22 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Gender and Management: lessons from recent research

Adelina Broadbridge is a Senior Lecturer, Department of Marketing, University of Stirling, Scotland. Her research has concentrated on HRM issues in retailing, and she has a particular interest in the gender issues therein. This work has examined the career development of retail managers, stress in retailing and the professionalisation of charity retailing and its resultant affects on managers. Current research projects, she is working on include the examination of the social and human capital of women executives' directors in the retail sector, and the employment experiences, career perceptions and expectations of Generation Y. She is an Associate Member of the Centre for Diversity and Work Psychology at MBS, on the editorial board of Women in Management Review, and “Retail Insights” editor of the International Journal of Retail, Distribution Management. Adelina founded the Gender in Management Special Interest Group (, which was set up to act as a dedicated network for academics to keep up to date with current issues in the area of Gender and Management. E-mail:

Gender and Management: lessons from recent research

This issue of Women in Management Review is dedicated to a selection of papers that were presented at the “Gender and Management” track at the British Academy of Management Conference (BAM), held at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast in association with Queens University Belfast and the University of Ulster, 12-14 September 2006, (

As always we welcomed a diverse range of scholars from those firmly established in their careers and known worldwide for their research and other scholarly activities, to those beginning their academic careers. Of the 22 tracks hosted at the conference, the Gender and Management track was the seventh largest in number of papers presented and this stands testament to the growing interest from researchers investigating this important area. The call for papers attracted 27 submissions and each paper was subject to a double blind review process. A word of thanks is given to all the anonymous reviewers who gave up their time generously and responded in a timely manner so as to create a successful track at the conference. This resulted in 19 papers being presented at the conference along with a symposium. The speakers were from an international audience including Australia, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, USA and the UK. Papers covered a wide variety of topics and popular themes were career progression, leadership, management development and management of emotions. The sessions were very well attended throughout the duration of the conference and as always any debate and discussion was conducted within a supportive and constructive environment.

We started off the track with a symposium this year and this was jointly organised by three academics who provided a thought provoking session on the problematics of doing cross-cultural research on Gender and Management in international organisations. The symposium highlighted the need for contemporary international organisations to balance the requirements for global standardisation with local differentiation, and it considered how gender relations are played out therein. So, for example, although there is a need to manage diversity worldwide we learned that in practice that this must be tailored to local and national circumstances. Thanks to Beverly Metcalfe (University of Hull, UK), Rebecca Piekkari (Helsinki School of Economics, Finland) and Janne Tienari (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland) for their work in putting this session together. What followed were a range of papers covering various areas of Gender and Management:

  • Oya Culpan, Pennsylvania State University “Globalization: boom or bust for Turkish women in banking”.

  • Michael Dunn, Cranfield University: “Front line or clothes line? – Research issues on the role of women officers in the British Army”.

  • Norma Heaton, University of Ulster: “Getting into HR: different experiences for men and women?”.

  • Carianne Hunt, University of Manchester: “Sexual harassment: a review of the literature”.

  • Maria Jarlstrom, University of Vaasa, Finland: “Preferred career anchors, career strategies and values of female and male careerists”.

  • Patricia Lewis, Brunel University: “Emotion management and emotion space in a special care baby unit”.

  • Sharon Mavin, Newcastle Business School: “Queen bees, wannabees and afraid to bees: women and women in management”.

  • Karen Miller, Glasgow Caledonian University: “Revisiting Rapoport, White and Hakim: organisational context to female career progression”.

  • Agneta Moulettes, University of Lund: “The absence of women's voices in Hofstede's cultural consequences: a postcolonial reading”.

  • Sara Nadin, University of Bradford: “What a performance!': the research interview as a site for the `doing' of gender by female entrepreneurs”.

  • Elizabeth Parsons, University of Keele and Adelina Broadbridge, University of Stirling: “Gender and identity at work: the case of charity shop managers”.

  • Anne Ross-Smith, M Kornberger, A Anandakumar and Colleen Chesterman: “Women executives: managing emotions at the top”.

  • Susan Shaw, Manchester Metropolitan University and Cathy Cassell, Manchester Business School, “That's not how I see it”.

  • Val Singh, Deidre Anderson and Susan Vinnicombe, Cranfield University: “Stepping out from gendered cultures: fond farewells from successful women”.

  • Emily Thomson and Duncan McTavish, Glasgow Caledonian University: “Gender and Management in the academy: case study of Scottish University”.

  • Huiping Xian, Manchester Metropolitan University: “How women manage careers in the IT industry in China”.

  • Birgit Weyer, Weyer und Hansen, GbR, Training and Consulting: “Twenty years later: explaining the persistence of the glass ceiling for women leaders”.

  • Helen Woolnough*, Lyn Davidson*, Pauline Brandwood**, and Ken Hahlo**. Manchester Business School; ** Bolton University: “Study of the barriers to women's promotion to positions in middle and senior management in retail”.

  • Alison Wyse and Tricia Vilkinas, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia: “Public sector executive leadership roles and associated skills: an Australian case study”.

As is custom, BAM presented a number of prizes for the best papers of various tracks. Women in Management Review (WIMR) kindly sponsored the prize for the “Gender and Management” track. Selection was based on the anonymous reviewers' comments and the prize was awarded to Dr Patricia Lewis, Brunel University for her paper entitled “Emotion management and emotion space in a special care baby unit.” Patricia gave an excellent presentation on the issues, difficulties and ways that nurses manage their emotions working in such a working environment. This paper will be published in the British Journal of Management in March 2008. Plate 1 shows Patricia (left) with Paula Fernandez, Publisher of the Journal.

Plate 1Patricia Lewis and Paula Fernandez

During the conference, the track hosted a Gender in Management Special Interest Group (GIM SIG annual general meeting. In addition to presenting the award for best paper, there a followed a discussion on ideas for the future development of the special interest group. We heard that the GIM SIG is one of the most active SIGs run by BAM and hosts its own web site ( We talked about various topics for future GIM SIG seminars including “managing diversity in organisations” “writing for publication” and “personal and professional career development opportunities”. Other general discussions ensued regarding the hosting of a joint symposium between the gender in management and Research Methods Special Interest Groups. I am pleased to announce that such a session will be hosted at the 2007 BAM conference in Warwick entitled “Gender Issues in Research Methods” and will be convened by myself and Dr Bill Lee (University of Sheffield). Speakers include Professor Fiona Wilson (University of Glasgow), Professor Catherine Cassell (Manchester Business School), Dr Kathryn Haynes (University of York), Dr Christina Reis (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Dr Carol Woodhams (University of Plymouth). The discussants will be Dr Craig Shepherd (Leeds University Business School) and Professor Susan Vinnicombe OBE (Cranfield School of Management). Plate 2 shows the Gender and Management academics at work.

Plate 2“Gender and Management” academics at work!

Following the success of previous years there followed a GIM SIG dinner at The Oxford Exchange where around 30 members of the special interest group relaxed, socialised and enjoyed good company and conversation. A superb BAM conference dinner was held at Belfast City Hall where conversations and friendships continued to develop, helped along with good food and drink. Dancing, however, we were to learn was prohibited – and participants (led by several members of the Gender and Management track) (Plate 3) were reprimanded for attempting to burn off the calories by dancing to the jazz band!

Plate 3“Gender and Management” academics at play!

For this special issue, five papers that reflect the central concerns of WIMR have been selected for inclusion. This was done in consultation with the Journal Editor, Dr Sandra Fielden, and then subjected to further review and revision. It is coincidental, but also worth mentioning that the five papers have been drawn from the authors' research for their PhDs.

Although the topics of these five papers are diverse, some recurrent themes are evident and there are areas of overlap. For example, we might argue that a common thread of the papers relates back to the expected role of women and men in society and traditional definitions of the characteristics of being male or female, and how these perpetuate the traditional thinking, the way things are done and our notions of our expectations of women and men in society.

So, we see that the absence of women from Hofstede's research results in a biased perspective that helps to replicate the notion of white, middle class men within a management context. Given the continued influence of Hofstede's research in contemporary writings, Agneta Moulettes provides a refreshing insight to understanding this work and raises some very pertinent and critical issues regarding his methodological approach. She draws on a postcolonial position and highlights the silencing of women's voices in Hofstede's research despite his construction of a masculine/feminine dimension from his work. She argues for a relocation of research on culture and gender from logocentrism and dichotomies to a discourse that that take local variations and multiplicity into consideration.

Sara Nadin's paper explores the notion of identity in the care work sector, a sector that traditionally has connotations with the employment of women. Her research consisted of two owners of small businesses in the care sector, one an owner of an old people's care home; the other the owner of a children's nursery. The findings revealed how these women distanced themselves from what they considered to be negative stereotypes about small business owners and the morally dubious position of making a profit from caring. Therefore, she found that there was a silencing of the respondents' entrepreneurial identity and an embracing of their female identity in their attempts to gain some sense of legitimacy and integrity from their employees. In so doing these women minimised various entrepreneurial roles such as the importance of making money and their role as “boss”. Rather they liked, and enacted in their day to day work environment, the idea of being regarded as “one of them” and a friend or confidant. Their femininity was also preserved through their roles as wife and mother and the relative relationship their entrepreneurial roles played vis-a-vis their husbands.

While Sara's paper examined women's work in a traditional sector of employment for women, by contrast, Michael Dunn's paper examines a largely non-traditional role for women, that of women officers in the British army. He found that the women respondents experienced a lack of congeniality in the work place. The main focus of his paper, however, was to examine whether women army officers lead in different ways to men, and he undertook this by conducting 24 semi structured interviews with army officers (12 men and 12 women). He found that there were differences in the way men and women lead in the army, and as a result he puts forward a conceptual model of military leadership that differs from the transactional/transformational leadership model. It also disconfirms contemporary leadership theory that conflates leadership and change management.

Brigit Weyer's paper follows on the theme of leadership. Her conceptual paper provides a theoretical explanation for the persistence of the glass ceiling (which Dunn refers to an “armoured” glass ceiling) which keeps women from assuming leadership positions. She compares and contrasts social role theory and expectation states theory (which are related but different) as theoretical underpinnings to explain the persistence of the glass ceiling for women leaders. She argues that both theories are grounded in the belief that inequalities between women and men are caused by the greater social significance and general competence attributed to men over women, and that gender bias in evaluation is a primary cause for the glass ceiling – hence the paucity of women in top leadership positions. She concludes that what is needed is for a change in social structures where the differences between status and power, between the sexes are reduced, and women are assigned greater social significance and general competence.

The final paper in this collection of papers is by Sue Shaw and Catherine Cassell and it deals with a subject area close to many an academic researcher's heart, that of how men and women perceive the academic role. Their research, which was conducted with 20 staff, the Dean of School and Head of Human Resources in each of two business schools within two UK universities, drew on life history interviews and repertory grid methodology. They found that while at a general level one might argue that women and men academics view performance in a similar way, gender differences nonetheless existed in the way the women and men defined their academic role and in what they considered to be important from a personal and institutional perspective. Their work lends support to previous research in the area and the masculine culture of the academy was regarded as potentially hostile. They also concluded that women's traditional roles in caring and nurturing functions predispose them to student focused roles. This, in turn, might create tensions in relation to them being research led and concentrating their attention on publications and other research activities. However, the authors were careful to state that the sector is not homogenous and neither are the experiences of women and men within it. They question to what extent women's position is exacerbated or improved in today's higher education that is characterised by a new managerialism.

Finally, my thanks go to Dr Sandra Fielden, the General Editor of WIMR, for giving me the opportunity to publish this collection of the papers from the conference track.

We hope this special issue will bring some new perspectives and assist in understanding some of the contemporary research themes being undertaken in gender spheres today.

Adelina BroadbridgeGuest Editor

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