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Gender in Organizations

The Icelandic Female Council Manager

Eva Marín Hlynsdóttir

The importance of local authorities in modern states continues to grow regarding service delivery and policy-making. As the role of local authorities has grown, so has the prestige and importance of the top manager positions at the local level. Traditionally, women’s advancement into these top-echelon positions has been much slower than into positions at the lower levels of local government. So how and when do women get hired into these positions? Is their career advancement similar to that of their male peers, or are there notable differences between the sexes? And are women really only hired as change agents during times of crisis? The author provides answers to these questions and more by focusing on the career advancement of Icelandic female council managers. The book draws from both comparative resources and a single case study on Iceland and provides comprehensive information on the recruitment of women into the position of council manager from the perspective of local government studies, organizational studies and gender studies. The book will help scholars, students and practitioners interested in exploring the subtle hindrances facing women’s advancement into top-echelon positions in organizations.

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The book draws findings from various data sources, firstly from a dataset from 2011 to 2012 (the 2011–2012 CEO dataset). This dataset includes a survey (2011 CEO survey) conducted via telephone in December 2011. At the time, there were 76 municipalities in Iceland, of which one was in the process of being merged with a neighboring municipality and one was in the process of hiring a new council manager. These two municipalities were, therefore, excluded from the 2011 CEO survey. The remaining 74 chief executives were included in the survey, and the response rate was 100 percent. This dataset also included semi-structured interviews conducted in 2012. During the interviewing, 40 interviews were conducted with all types of Icelandic chief executives in municipalities with a population of 500 or more. The Icelandic council-manager continuum introduced in Chapter 7 was based on interviews with 22 council managers chosen out of the original dataset. Findings based on the 2011–2012 CEO dataset have been published in the following publications: Hlynsdóttir 2015, 2016a, 2016b, and 2016c. The collection of the data was partly funded by the University of Iceland Research Fund.

The second major dataset this book draws findings from is the 2019 CEO survey. The survey was conducted in March and April 2019 by the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Iceland. A questionnaire was sent via email to all local government chief executives in Iceland. Out of the 72 who received the survey, 66 responded (a...

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