Chapter 15

Women Professionals’ Gender Strategies: Negotiating Gendered Organizational Barriers1

Sharon R. Bird and Laura A. Rhoton

Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA

Gender equity and gender mainstreaming efforts in countries around the world have drawn tremendous attention to the gendered structural barriers and interpersonal biases that women confront in their efforts to advance and attain positions of leadership and authority in different types of work organizations. Women remain the primary instigators, agitators, and leaders of concrete efforts to diminish institutionalized gender barriers and subtle gender biases (e.g. National Academy of Sciences, Beyond Bias and Barriers Report 2007). Understanding how women professionals view and try to address gender barriers and biases in professional work organizations is crucial.

In this chapter, we review research on the personal gender strategies that women professionals in male dominated professional work organizations develop and use in their efforts to attain career success. We offer select comparisons with women’s gender strategies in other types of work organizations to demonstrate some of the unique aspects of women’s careers in professional work organizations. We are especially interested in how women professionals’ uses of various gender strategies affect their collective efforts to promote fairness in the distribution of opportunities and rewards in male dominated work organizations. What kinds of gendered barriers ...

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