Identity, women managers and social change: Comparing Singapore and Britain

Bhavnani, Reena (2004). Identity, women managers and social change: Comparing Singapore and Britain. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University)

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Abstract

This study concerns the examination of women managers' identities in Singapore and Britain, against a context of global, national and corporate change. Identities are multiple, shifting and ambivalent. They are ascribed through structures and cultures, but also subject to negotiation through women's agency. The thesis places empirical analysis of women managers' career stories within the context of social change and social theory on the nature of identity. The study explores how Singaporean and British women managers have discursively responded to wider change processes. 23 women managers in the financial sector in Singapore and Britain were interviewed for this purpose.

In the advanced market economies, dual career families have increasingly contracted out household work. Coupled with a consumer led society these changes have weakened the family. Furthermore, women managers, like their male counterparts have increasingly been constructed as individualised unencumbered workers. Despite these wider global changes, Part I of the thesis concludes that women managers continue to be constructed in organisations and in nation states as gendered subjects, as wives and mothers, as sexualised, as embodied and emotional.

Despite these similar gendered constructions for women, women managers are not responding in the same ways in both countries. Part II presents the analysis of the interviews and shows that government policies, histories and cultural discourses still largely influence the ways in which women's identities are constrained and constructed. Gender regimes in financial corporations in Singapore and Britain are differently constituted. Family identities as wives and mothers are experienced and voiced differently by women managers in Singapore and Britain. Different processes of individualization have differential effects on women managers in the two gender regimes. The implications of these findings for gender relations are explored in the conclusions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/18585

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