There has been much debate as to whether women manage differently from men and whether this may constitute a reason for women's lack of progress to the top echelons of organizations (Tanton 1994; Coyle 1993; Still 1994; Wajcman 1998). This article locates the sameness/difference debate in a wider analysis of management styles, with particular attention paid to the business function. It is also suggested that any debate on styles must take place within a feminist theoretical framework which acknowledges inequalities of power, economic and patriarchal interests. Management skills are socially constructed (Phillips and Taylor 1980) and change according to social and economic conditions. The article shows that business function is the most important influence on management style. The author contends, like others, that even in times of great change, men seem to be able to hold on to the most powerful positions in organizations (Cockburn 1986; Savage and Witz 1992; Collinson et al. 1990). The convergence of patriarchal interests with business interests ultimately determines what style is valued. The much vaunted feminization of management (Rosener 1990) does not mean that more women are to be found in senior positions in organizations. Nor do large numbers of women managers necessarily lead to a more feminized management style (Kanter 1977). Stereotypes of women still act against their acceptance into positions of power while men's ability to adopt some of traditionally feminine skills of communication means that women's supposed advantage (Rosener 1990) may have been leapfrogged.
Gender, Work & Organisation – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 2001
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