To understand why women have not been more successful in moving up to higher managerial positions, it is useful to examine the mechanisms through which power is acquired, maintained and exercised in organizations.
Sources of power in organizations are frequently biased towards men; this is the result of generations of socialization and internalization effects that produce organizational structures, norms and cultures with in-built power balances towards men. As Arroba and James (1987) say, “organizations are designed and run by men and therefore the prevailing culture tends to be alien to women” (p. 127). Indeed, in a recent article Still (1994) maintains that “enough evidence now exists to prove that organizational culture is a major impediment to women′s progress into senior management” because of the gender bias of the culture. She goes on to say that all organizations embody a male managerial culture because, when both organizations and management systems were first formed, only males were in the workforce, leading to what Kanter (1977) described as “organizational structure that has been constructed to exacerbate and exploit gender differences”. Despite the advent of women into both the workforce and management, and the introduction of anti-discrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action laws, “There has been little fundamental change to the underlying culture” ( Still, 1994, p. 4). This culture can work against women in many ways, for instance, by organizing opportunity structures and career progression in ways that enable men to achieve positions of prestige and power more easily than women. Because it is a culture rather than a formal visible structure that is biasing power, it becomes more difficult to change through legislation. For instance, in many cases the inner circle of male senior-level executives and professionals have many shared experiences such as school, sporting activities, company boards and... [continues]
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