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Gender at Work

A Social Psychological Perspective


Melanie C. Steffens and Ma. Àngels Viladot

While many women receive equal education, such equality is nowhere in sight when it comes to women’s and men’s career success: men still earn significantly more than women and are more likely to be promoted. In this book, the authors offer a state of the art review of applied social-psychological research on gender at work, shedding light on all the different ways that work-related perceptions, attributions, outcomes, and the like differ for women and men. Focusing on domains (e.g., engineering) and positions (e.g., leadership) that are marked by women’s underrepresentation, the first part of the book looks at gender at work in terms of stereotypes, attitudes, and social roles, including parenthood, while the second part takes a social identity and communication perspective, exploring the situations in which men and women interact at work. Many chapters focus on applied questions, such as career choice, effects of role models, and sexual harassment at work. Theories and findings are applied to these topics, with conclusions and recommendations drawn throughout the book.
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Chapter 21. Leadership and Gender Identity in Organizations


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The workplace plays a critical role in the development and enactment of people’s social identity. Organizations are “minicultures” that provide people with a sense of self and belonging (Haslam, 2004). More specifically, organizations contribute to the construction of people’s identities in at least two specific ways: by placing people in particular roles and by developing norms that regulate how members interact with others (Morton, Wright, Peters, Reynolds, & Haslam, 2012). Through these processes, organizations create leaders and subordinates (Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2011).

In spite of the important entry of women into the workplace and despite the growing interest of many professional women in working in traditionally male professions, gender has not been considered as an important variable in the communications among male and female professionals in these fields. There still exists glaring occupational gender segregation; many occupations are dominated by either one gender or the other. Gender segregation is a taken-for-granted feature of the workplace (Castaño & Webster, 2014).

← 223 | 224 → Research on how businesses operate and theories on organizational structure have barely considered how gender in the workplace can be used to interpret social realities. Moreover, the perspective of examining gender roles the workplace is overshadowed by the emphasis on optimizing business management through leadership. Can we speak here of nonaccommodation strategies? We believe so. There are many studies that examine the social-psychological and sociostructural factors barring women from the top positions. In addition, the elements that hinder...

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