Inflating and down playing strengths and weaknesses: Practicing gender in the evaluation of potential managers and partners
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Number of pages
SourceScandinavian Journal of Management, 32, 1, (2016), pp. 20-32
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SW OZ RSCR SOC
Scandinavian Journal of Management
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies; Dynamics of gender; Inequality Cohesion Rationalization; Ongelijkheid Cohesie Rationalisatie
In this paper we contribute to the debate on gender in evaluation decisions and the male norm in management by examining how the skills and experience of women and men are described and interpreted in the evaluation of candidates' potential for future positions in a Swedish bank and a Dutch professional services firm. By drawing on Martin's concept of practicing gender, we show how strengths and weaknesses are discursively constructed in real time and space. We identify four different and subtle patterns of practicing gender in the evaluation of men and women in which men's strengths are inflated and their weaknesses downplayed, while women's strengths are downplayed and weaknesses inflated. Although women are included in the process and seen as competent, their potential is - in general limited to lower managerial levels. Moreover, we examine the entanglement of gender and age. We discuss how these patterns of practicing gender can help us understand how gender and other inequalities are reproduced in seemingly gender egalitarian contexts where women and men are considered for higher positions.
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