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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk/handle/1826/4092

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 development. 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.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1826/4092
Appears in Collections:PhD, DBA, and MSc by Research theses (School of Management)

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