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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2017

Charlotte Harman and Ruth Sealy

The purpose of this paper is to challenge existing models of career ambition, extending understanding of how women define and experience ambition at early career stages in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to challenge existing models of career ambition, extending understanding of how women define and experience ambition at early career stages in a professional services organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 women from a professional services organisation, who were aged 24-33 and had not yet reached managerial positions. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and template analysis was conducted.

Findings

The analysis revealed four main themes in the women’s experiences: subjective, dynamic ambition; frustrated lack of sight; self-efficacy enables ambition; and a need for resilience vs a need to adapt. The findings support that women do identify as ambitious, but they vary in the extent to which they view ambition as intrinsic and stable, or affected by external, contextual factors, such as identity-fit, barriers, support and work-life conflict.

Research limitations/implications

These results demonstrated insufficiency of current models of ambition and a new model was proposed. The model explains how women’s workplace experiences affect their ambition and therefore how organisations and individuals can better support women to maintain and fulfil their ambitions.

Originality/value

This study extends and contributes to the redefinition of women’s career ambition, proposing a model incorporating women’s affective responses to both internal (psychological) and external (organisational) factors. It provides further evidence against previous individual-level claims that women “opt-out” of their careers due to an inherent lack of ambition, focussing on the interplay of contextual-level explanations.

Details

Career Development International, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2010

Ruth Sealy

The aim of this paper is to explore how an elite group of senior women in banking represent and describe their understanding and experience of the role of meritocracy…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explore how an elite group of senior women in banking represent and describe their understanding and experience of the role of meritocracy, within the context of their own career.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 33 senior female directors from six global investment banks. Template analysis was used in the qualitative analysis of the coding.

Findings

The paper found that the women's adherence to the notion of meritocracy diminished over time, as merit appeared to be less defined by human capital (ability and experience) and more by social capital (seen as political behaviour). The paper also reveals how the concept is construed on two levels: first, on a symbolic level, demonstrating how the organization defines and rewards success; second, on a personal level, how it affects the individual's cognitions, emotions and self‐belief.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the small literature on the concept of meritocracy in the management field, with an emphasis on the experiences of successful female directors in global investment banks.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 25 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Patricia Pryce and Ruth Sealy

Women remain underrepresented at senior levels in global investment banks. By investigating promotion processes in this sector, and using the concept of a multi-level…

Abstract

Purpose

Women remain underrepresented at senior levels in global investment banks. By investigating promotion processes in this sector, and using the concept of a multi-level, relational framework, this paper seeks to examine macro, micro, and meso-level influences, and the interplay between them, as explanations for why more progress is not being made.

Design/methodology/approach

Data are taken from two projects with a total of 50 semi-structured interviews with male and female directors and managing directors (MDs), across six investment banks discussing careers and promotions. An inductive approach was taken to data analysis.

Findings

Women's lack of representation at the top of investment banks is not simply an individual level problem but is the result of the dynamic interplay between macro- and meso-level influences that impact individual agency, identity and perception of fit.

Research limitations/implications

Public debate should be refocused around the meso-level influences of what organizations can do to promote more inclusive cultures and structures thereby enabling more women to achieve MD positions in investment banking.

Originality/value

The paper considers challenges women face in their promotion to MD using a multi-level framework demonstrating the impact of each level and their interconnectedness. It contributes to the limited qualitative research exploring the career experiences of senior level individuals in global financial services firms.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2010

Patricia Lewis and Ruth Simpson

This editorial aims to introduce the special issue on meritocracy, difference and choice.

Abstract

Purpose

This editorial aims to introduce the special issue on meritocracy, difference and choice.

Design/methodology/approach

The first part is a commentary on key issues in the study of the notions of meritocracy, difference and choice. The second part presents the six papers in the special issue.

Findings

Five of the six papers in this special issue explore the work experiences of women managers/directors in senior positions within a variety of organizations. All of these papers demonstrate that despite their economic empowerment, these women are still strongly connected to the domestic realm through their continued entanglement in the traditional roles of mother and homemaker. This has led them to interpret their work situation either through a consideration of what they understand by the notion of merit or a presentation of their situation through the lens of choice. A further paper which explores the experiences of sex workers exposes the gendered nature of agency, highlighting the limitations on “choice” that different types of workers experience.

Research limitations/implications

The authors comment on how contemporary notions of merit and choice individualise women's experience within organisations, ignoring the structural and systemic elements inherent to women's continued disadvantage. This allows “blame” for women's absence in the upper echelons of organisations to lie with women themselves, explaining this in terms of their lack of skills or the traditional “choices” they make. The six papers which make up the special issue explore how women's “choices” are constrained, how the contemporary discourses of merit and choice conceal issues of structure and organizational process and how women struggle to make sense of their own and others' experiences.

Practical implications

The issues discussed in the papers have important implications for understanding women's experience of work and organizations. They highlight the need to introduce a structural and systemic element to the understanding of how women experience work at senior (and other) levels of organizations, why they take the decision to leave a senior position and why women appear to “choose” not to seek senior positions.

Originality/value

Gender and Management: An International Journal invited this special issue on meritocracy, difference and choice to draw attention to the ways in which women draw on these discourses as a means of understanding their organizational situations and how use of these discourses acts to conceal the structural and systemic element connected to their work experiences.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 25 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 May 2014

Doyin Atewologun and Ruth Sealy

In management studies, assumptions surround the fixed, categorical and binary nature of male, ethnic and other privileges. Compared to white, middle-class men, “others”…

Abstract

Purpose

In management studies, assumptions surround the fixed, categorical and binary nature of male, ethnic and other privileges. Compared to white, middle-class men, “others” are typically assumed not to experience privilege. The authors counter this assumption by applying intersectionality to examine privilege's juxtaposition with disadvantage. The paper offers an elaborated conceptualisation of organisational privilege and insight into the agency employed by individuals traditionally perceived as non-privileged. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Using diaries and interviews, the paper analyses 20 micro-episodes from four senior minority ethnic women and men's accounts of intersecting ethnic, gender and senior identities. The paper identifies how privilege plays out at the juxtaposition of (male gender and hierarchical) advantage with (female gender and ethnic) disadvantage.

Findings

The fluidity of privilege is revealed through contextual, contested and conferred dimensions. Additionally, privilege is experienced in everyday micro-level encounters and the paper illustrates how “sometimes privileged” individuals manage their identities at intersections.

Research limitations/implications

This in-depth analysis draws on a small sample of unique British minority ethnic individuals to illustrate dimensions of privilege.

Practical implications

It is often challenging to discuss privilege. However, the focus on atypical wielders of power challenges binary assumptions of privilege. This can provide a common platform for dominant and non-dominant group members to share how societal and organisational privileges differentially impact groups. This inclusive approach could reduce dominant group members’ psychological and emotional resistance to social justice.

Originality/value

Through bridging privilege and intersectionality perspectives, the paper offers a complex and nuanced perspective that contrasts against prevalent conceptions of privilege as invisible and uncontested.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 November 2016

Adelina Broadbridge and Sharon Anne Mavin

Abstract

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 31 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Content available
Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Abstract

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

Design/methodology/approach

This briefing is prepared by an independent writer who adds their own impartial comments and places the articles in context.

Findings

Does ambition differ between men and women? This question is fraught with danger on so many levels, and perhaps as a result it remains rather a taboo issue. The traditional, patriarchal “Mad Men” view is that men are more ambitious than women and more successful, but that women are “changing” and transporting their competitiveness into the workplace. Thankfully, things have moved on since then, although by how much is perhaps another moot point.

Practical implications

The paper provides strategic insights and practical thinking that have influenced some of the world’s leading organizations.

Originality/value

The briefing saves busy executives and researchers hours of reading time by selecting only the very best, most pertinent information, and presenting it in a condensed and easy-to-digest format.

Details

Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-0734

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 7 December 2017

Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds

Abstract

Details

The Stalled Revolution: Is Equality for Women an Impossible Dream?
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-602-0

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Article
Publication date: 10 May 2011

Susan Vinnicombe

The purpose of this paper is to provide a reflection on the author's earlier paper published in Gender in Management: An International Journal (formerly Women in

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a reflection on the author's earlier paper published in Gender in Management: An International Journal (formerly Women in Management Review) in 2003 titled “Locks and keys to the boardroom”.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is examined in the context of current research and writing on women on boards.

Findings

The 2003 paper built on the authors' previous research and writing and informed their current research activities. In addition, the 2003 paper reflected an emerging interest in women on boards and the factors leading to their success.

Practical implications

The paper finds that the organisation featured in the original article did not turn out to be a tipping point in terms of women appointed to directors. Very little progress has taken place in the past eight years in terms of numbers of women on top boards, but the Davies report (2011) should prompt change.

Originality/value

The paper indicates that a great deal of research has developed since 2003 studying women on boards.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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