Competent women, subliminal group hierarchies and executive leadership

Southey, Kim and Waldron, Ainslie and Murray, Peter A. (2019) Competent women, subliminal group hierarchies and executive leadership. In: 33rd Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference (AIRAANZ 2019): Global Work, Quality Work?, 12-14 Feb 2019, Melbourne, Australia.

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Abstract

Objective: We analysed the experiences of successful executive women leaders to ascertain how they attained appointments to roles as high as the C-suite and boardroom.

Theoretical focus: Sociologists use ‘status characteristics theory’ (SCT) to explain the influence of status beliefs based on salient characteristics, such as gender, on the assessment of a person’s competency in group task situations (Berger et al. 1980). SCT suggests women can elevate their position from their stereotypically assigned place in the subliminal group hierarchy by shortening the path of relevance (Berger et al. 1980) between perceptions of their gender and their competence to perform a leadership role.

Research question: What strategies do successful executive women use to overcome subliminal, gender-influenced assessments of their leadership competency?

Method: In 2016, we interviewed 25 women who held positions within the executive suite and/or on the Board of Australian companies and government departments. A thematic analysis adhering to a ‘contextualist’ approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was applied to examine the participants’ responses.

Major conclusions: The women demonstrated their competence via two overarching strategies: active demonstrations with associated internal dialogues. Under these two strategies sit four sets of mirror-imaged tactics: balanced career choices; outcome driven; image management; and leveraged relationships. Combined, these inputs reflect physical and mental manoeuvres women have used to achieve shortened paths of relevance, suggesting that they reconfigured the cognitive, stereotypical status assessment of being less competent than the men in the group, to being viewed as a person capable of an executive leadership role.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Abstract only.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 July 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 July 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 04:54
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2020 23:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: gender, women, status, competency
Fields of Research : 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150310 Organisation and Management Theory
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150305 Human Resources Management
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910402 Management
B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9102 Microeconomics > 910202 Human Capital Issues
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/37402

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