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|Document Type: ||Thesis or dissertation|
|Title: ||A Qualitative Examination of the Importance of Female Role Models in Investment Banks|
|Authors: ||Sealy, Ruth|
|Supervisors: ||Singh, Val|
|Issue Date: ||Jan-2009|
|Abstract: ||A number of practitioner surveys across a range of industries have cited the lack of
senior female role models as a barrier to career progression. There is very little
academic literature to explain this at a senior organizational level. An initial review of
the extant role model literature led to the inclusion of two further related areas –
organizational demographics, as a contextual factor affecting the availability of role
models, and work identity development as a link between the lack of senior female
role models and the lack of career progression.
In seeking to answer the question of why and then how female role models are
important for senior women, this study fills an identified gap in the comprehension of
the concept of role models and their importance in the workplace. It addresses a need
to understand both the key elements of the concept and the mechanism by which they
come into play.
The research uses qualitative methods, specifically in-depth semi-structured
interviews. These were conducted with a senior group of 33 female directors from six
global investment banks, in order to elicit their experiences of role models in
demographically imbalanced work contexts.
Analysis of interview data considered all three areas of role models, demographic
context and work identity development. As the women forged their identities in the
male-dominated context of global investment banks, what became clear was that who
they are and have become was informed by the critical relationships they have had.
Whilst clearly some of the women had found male role models with whom to develop
these critical relationships, there were some identity issues, particular salient to
women, which could not be addressed by men. Thus the findings demonstrated the
utility of female role models.
This thesis has a number of contributions to make on varying levels:
On a conceptual level, this study adds to our understanding of the value of role
models, particularly detailing the affective or symbolic value. It has added to the
conceptualization of role models, detailing what were the core attributes of individuals chosen to be role models, who they were in relation to the women, how
the women used them and why they were important.
It has combined the three literature areas of role models, organizational demographics
and work identity development in a way not previously done, and has shown
empirically that they are related and explain each other. Organizational demographics
affect the availability of role models. And it is suggested that the relatively new
theory of relational identification is the mechanism that explicates how the presence
of positive female role models is a key influence on women’s work identity
It has clarified the value of role models in extreme gender demographic contexts, and
how and why they are important to senior women’s professional development, thereby
adding to the theory of role modelling.
Practically, the study explains why women in surveys may have been citing the lack
of female role models as such a prominent issue, and suggests what some of the issues
are that organizations should pay heed to in trying to address this.|
|Appears in Collections:||PhD, DBA, and MSc by Research theses (School of Management)|
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