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Changing perceptions of meritocracy in senior women's careers

Sealy, R. (2010). Changing perceptions of meritocracy in senior women's careers. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 25(3), pp. 184-197. doi: 10.1108/17542411011036392


Category – Research paper

Purpose – The aim of the study is to explore how an elite group of senior women in banking represent and describe their understanding and experience of the role of meritocracy, within the context of their own career.

Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 33 senior female directors from six global investment banks. Template analysis was used in the qualitative analysis of the coding.

Findings – The study found that the women’s adherence to the notion of meritocracy diminished over time, as merit appeared to be less defined by human capital (ability and experience) and more by social capital (seen as political behaviour). The study also revealed how the concept is construed on two levels: firstly on a symbolic level demonstrating how the organization defines and rewards success; secondly, on a personal level, how it affects the individual’s cognitions, emotions and self-belief.

Originality/value - This paper contributes to the small literature on the concept of meritocracy in the management field, with an emphasis on the experiences of successful female directors in global investment banks.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here (please insert the web address here). Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Publisher Keywords: Meritocracy, female directors, glass ceiling, women’s career success, career choice, banking
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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