Walking the tightrope: Constructing gender and professional identities in account management
SourceJournal of Management & Organization, 15, 5, (2009), pp. 596-610
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Management & Organization
This paper contributes to the growing stream of organization research that explores the relationship between professional identities and gender. Our central question pertains to how account managers ‘do gender’ in constructing their professional identities. While account management has been considered a sales occupation with a strong masculine connotation, some indications towards ‘feminization’ have also been observed. Our analysis of 39 interviews with white women and men working as account managers in the Netherlands suggests that these account managers construct a ‘tough salesman’ identity and a ‘co-operative communicator’ identity. These identities have different gender connotations. The ‘co-operative communicator’ identity facilitates a critical dialogue with the – often implicit – masculinity in the ‘tough salesman’ identity norm. We reflect on the effects of these gender connotations both for account managers and for our practice as organization researchers who intend to deconstruct rather than reproduce gender stereotypes in our study of professional identities.
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