Merit, special contribution and choice: How women negotiate between sameness and difference in their organizational lives

Emerald Group Publishing Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Gender in Management: An International Journal, 2010, 25 (3), pp. 198 - 207
Issue Date:
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how women in senior management draw on discourses of merit and special contribution in making sense of the contradictions and tensions they experience in their working lives. It has a particular focus on how women explain possible experiences of disadvantage and the extent to which they see such experiences as gendered. Design/methodology/approach The research is based on an Australian study of women leaders in the private and tertiary sectors. Data are drawn from in-depth interviews with 14 women. Findings Findings suggest that women draw on discourses of meritocracy and of special contribution in discussing their experiences at work. Inconsistencies between these competing discourses are mediated through notions of choice.
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