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Journal Article

The Power in Demography: Women's Social Constructions of Gender Identity at Work

Robin J. Ely
The Academy of Management Journal
Vol. 38, No. 3 (Jun., 1995), pp. 589-634
Published by: Academy of Management
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/256740
Page Count: 46
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The Power in Demography: Women's Social Constructions of Gender Identity at Work
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Abstract

This study examined how women's proportional representation in the upper echelons of organizations affects professional women's social constructions of gender difference and gender identity at work. Qualitative and quantitative data were used. Results suggest that sex roles are more stereotypical and more problematic in firms with relatively low proportions of senior women. This research also found that women responded to these constraints in a range of ways and identifies five response profiles. The study challenges prevailing conceptions of gender as an objective property of individuals synonymous with biological sex and universal across organizational settings; instead, it supports a more complex view of gender as an ongoing social construction, the meaning, significance, and consequences of which vary as a function of the power differences reflected in the sex composition across levels of an organization's hierarchy.

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