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Exploring the relationship between tokenism and gender quotas through the concept of embedded gender images

Haug, Mona

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Authors

Mona Haug



Abstract

This study aims to explain the continued relative absence of female managers in top positions, within the context of the current legally binding gender-quota debate in Germany. It enables a situated, empirically based understanding of eight female managers and eight male managers who participated in this PhD research project, investigating the similarities and differences between them, the relationship between tokenism and quotas, and the extent to which embedded gender images contribute to ‘doing gender’. This study focuses mainly on two topics: the experiences and perceptions of women whose careers are moving toward top positions, and the relationship between tokenism and gender quotas, examined using the concept of embedded gender images. Embedded gender images emerge from a wide range of different backgrounds and can be disguised as‘legitimate justification’ (Walby, 2005) in the German automotive industry. The concept of embedded gender images is crucial for understanding this topic, contributing to an unconscious process of evaluating people, conscious or unconscious biases about the few women in senior positions (Fan et al., 2018), or implicit biases that are firmly anchored in our minds (Tetlock and Mitchell, 2009). Over recent decades, many published studies have investigated gender diversity, gender equality, and gender gap, addressing the causes of these phenomena and offering solutions(Fine et al., 2020; Johns, 2013; King et al., 2010). Many such ideas have been adopted by practitioners and adopted into diversity and bias training (Ely et al., 2011), despite questions about their effectiveness (Bohnet, 2016). They have been incorporated by political actors into law proposals and vantage points (Jahn, 2014; Chaney, 2012; Celis and Childs, 2008), by interested parties into suggestions and ideas (Gebert, 2020; Bullion, 2017), and by researchers into detailed discussions of how to create a better path for women toward top positions (Fine et al., 2020; Fan et al., 2019; Heilmann and Caleo, 2018). Positioning this research within the field of women-in-management theory (Durbin, 2015; Marshall, 2000; Kanter, 1977) allows me to draw on well-established research about the phenomena discussed in this study, while also conceptualising them from a different angle. Methods including biographical narratives and semi-structured interviews have been used to achieve this goal. The key findings demonstrate that catalysts, including male and female mentors, stakeholders, coaches, and influential networks, are significant for both genders. However, when these supporters were no longer present (having changed to another division or left the company, the protection they had previously offered to the female managers working toward top positions, disappeared. This dynamic was different for male managers and their mentors. In relation to the question of legally binding-gender quotas in Germany, all but one of the women (who considered herself a quota-woman), but only some of the men involved in this PhD research project favoured the creation of a power shift or redistribution of power to achieve gender diversity. This study uses the concept of embedded gender images, rooted in a historical, cultural, and societal context, to explore the relationship between tokenism and gender quotas. To support this investigation, insights from research on stereotypes, barriers, and bias are incorporated into a discussion of the relationship between tokenism and gender quotas through the concept of embedded gender images.

Citation

Haug, M. Exploring the relationship between tokenism and gender quotas through the concept of embedded gender images. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/1490911

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2020
Keywords embedded gender images, gender diversity, bias, stereotypes, tokenism, German automotive industry, second-generation bias
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/1490911

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