Analysis Of Billing's Article, Are Women In Management Victims Of The Phantom Of The Male Norm?

3539 words - 14 pages


This research paper will discuss a paper published in volume 18 of Gender, Work and Organization (ISSN 0968-6673), in the Human Resource Management and Employment Studies field, titled “Are Women in Management Victims of the Phantom of the Male Norm?” (Billing 2011). Yvonne Due Billing is an Associate Professor working at the Department of Sociology in the University of Copenhagen. She has more than 60 published research contributions to book/anthology/report, working papers and contribution to conferences (University of Copenhagen 2011).

I will first discuss the general approach and rationale. This includes the research question; the research topic, its assumptions and hypothesis; and the research philosophy. Although this research paper could be evaluated in a number of ways and from different angles, I will focus upon the data collection methods. Starting with the literature review (secondary data collection), primary citations / sources, up to the usage of theoretical concepts inherited from the literature. Thereafter the primary data collection method will be assessed. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations will be offered.

General approach and rationale

Women in managerial roles has been a topic of debate for many decades. The advancement of women into position of power and influence in organisations has seen a steady rise, contributing to the equality of opportunity, in the last years (ILO 2004). However, the management gender commonplace is still considered to be a barrier. Indeed, in a worldwide overview of women in management, Berthoin and Izraeli (2002), reckon that the most important obstacle faced by female managers in industrialized nations is the stereotype that links management with being male.

Research Topic

Billing (2011) attempts to challenge the commonplace of casting women as victims of the male norm in management jobs. Further, she challenges the norm itself as a valid theoretical framework to understand women’s hurdle in management. The research question cannot be better expressed than in her own words: “In what sense do work practices and norms still reflect the life situations and interests of men?” (Billing 2011, p. 300). Furthermore, the author argues that management positions have been historically understood as being designed according to male norms and hence particularly challenging for women. However, this ethnographic study encourages the use of more sophisticated ways to understand female managers' experiences, to improve our understanding of the complexities of organizations.

Research Problem

As the title suggests, managerial jobs have conventionally been understood as male constructed and therefore not directly suitable for women. Contrastingly, Billing (2011) acknowledges the differences between men and women, yet argues the similarities amongst men and women in managerial positions. Her argument is based on qualitative interviews of 20 Swedish and Danish...

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