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Gender as a Social Practice: Implications for Women in Management - by Dr.Gourie Suraj-Narayan

  • Date Submitted: 12/08/2010 09:54 PM
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GENDER AS A SOCIAL PRACTICE: IMPLICATIONS FOR WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT
DR.GOURIE SURAJ-NARAYAN
UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL
SOUTH AFRICA
E-MAIL: surajg@ukzn.ac.za
INTRODUCTION
For decades patriarchy precluded women from having a legal or political identity and the legislation and attitudes supporting this provided the model for slavery. By the middle of the 20th century, the emphasis had shifted from suffrage to social and economic equality in the work and family sphere and the women’s movement that sprung up during the 1960s began to argue that women were oppressed by patriarchal structures. Developing theories to explain gender as a social practice in management feminist theoretical concepts of patriarchy challenge these inequalities. They have done this by challenging concepts of gender, the family and the unequal division of labour underpinned by a theory of patriarchy that has come to reveal how it operates to subordinate women and privilege men, often at women’s expense. Thus patriarchy operates to achieve and maintain the gender inequalities essential for the subordination of women.
Another factor, which impedes women’s managers’ access to top-level jobs, is the women’s own career strategies and ambivalent attitude towards a ‘masculine type’ career orientation characterised by competition of power. This ambivalent attitude can be attributed to the tensions felt by women managers endeavouring to maintain a balance between professional and family responsibilities. In terms of perceived effectiveness, according to their peers and subordinates, women managers outperformed men on six out of seven dimensions of managerial behaviour. The women managers outperformed the male managers not only on the interpersonal factors but especially in ‘controlling’. According to Davidson et al. [2000] despite the persistent stereotypes about gender differences, there are few consistent gender differences in personality, managerial behaviour and effectiveness. They have...

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