مدل سازی نقش جنسیتی: روند ساخت متناقض
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|36079||2008||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||10091 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 24, Issue 3, September 2008, Pages 259–270
Theory of role modelling in organizations addresses the contents of role models, while the process of modelling has received little attention. In this paper, this gendered process is scrutinized from a constructionist perspective. Modelling starts with a comparison between an image of oneself with that of a person who serves as a proto-model; continues with idealization and/or composition of the traits of proto-models resulting in an image of a role, and ends with a comparison between such an image and an image of oneself, leading to directives for action. People do not model their behaviour on real persons, but on mental constructs they make loosely inspired by actual people. This conclusion forms a new argument against tokenism: it is never enough to employ one woman, as proto-models must be many and varied.
The issue of role modelling has been of interest for organization scholars since the 1960s. It has been repeatedly pointed out that in most contemporary organizations men and women meet many men who can serve as their role models, but neither men nor women have women role models from which to choose (Ely, 1995; Ibarra, 1999; Kanter, 1977; Paludi & Fankell-Hauser, 1986; Schein, 1975). However, it has also been pointed out that the focus on role models is “a psychological version of the American dream: if women merely follow the lead of so-called role models, we all, every one of us, can succeed” (Fisher, 1988, p. 212). Even if the meaning of role models for women has been focus for much field research ( Fisher, 1988; Speizer, 1981), the process of role modelling, as Ibarra (1999) pointed out, has received little empirical attention. However, researchers have managed to formulate many questions that call for answers. Women's numerical under-representation at top management levels is a persistent state of affairs, which raises the question of whether or not the dearth of female role models affects the careers and transition experiences of younger women. Gibson and Cordova (1999) claimed that lack of female role models makes women experience organizational life and career as more difficult than men, as women have to perform more sophisticated cognition operations than do men, who have many same-sex role models within the organization. As a result, men are said to be more likely to form composite role models, whereas women more likely identify with cross-sex role models ( Gibson & Cordova, 1999). The same body of research suggested that role modelling needs further examination. One interesting opportunity to study the effects of under-representation of women is an arrival of the newcomers to such organizations. A management apprenticeship programme offered by a multinational company operating in Sweden to young people who recently earned a degree in Business Administrations became thus an object of an ethnographically inspired longitudinal study. The field study focused on the company socialization practices, but the issue of role modelling soon emerged as significant (Eriksson, 2000). A tentative description of the role modelling process has therefore been constructed and it is offered for scrutiny here. Before it is presented and exemplified, however, a brief introduction to the original study and its premises is necessary. Theoretical and methodological premises of the study of role modelling The original study (Eriksson, 2000) embraced the constructivist approach, which assumes that reality is socially constructed (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). The constructionist variation favoured by Knorr-Cetina (1981), Latour (1998) and Latour (2005), and Czarniawska (2003) makes two specifications of this general approach. Firstly, it takes a realist, not an idealist stance: the point is not that reality is but an illusion to be shaped at will, but that it does not have an essence to be discovered and described. The reality is constantly under construction, and its stability is an illusion created by repetition and supported by artefacts. Secondly, it takes “social” to mean that representations of reality are created in interactions with others. These “others” do not have to be only people—they can be artefacts, symbols and images. Listening to a performance of a successful leader might produce in a listener an idea—an image—of what it is to be a successful leader. It is suggested here that the process of role modelling takes place when a person consciously or unconsciously models her or his behaviour on such an image. The constructionist stance in gender studies usually means that gender is seen as a “routine, methodical and recurring accomplishment” embedded in everyday actions (Poggio, 2006; West & Zimmerman, 1987, p. 126). The focus is on “doing gender”; on “the activities of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one's sex category” (West & Zimmerman, 1987, p. 127). The daily accomplishment of gender can be illustrated for instance by the practices in work organizations (Acker, 1992; Martin, 2006) where it becomes “naturalized as ‘the way it is’” (Calás & Smircich, 2006, p. 301). Only few studies within socialization and role modelling research have been discussing the role modelling process in terms of social construction. Yet the classic Berger and Luckmann's The social construction of reality from 1966 put much emphasis on socialization, differentiating between primary socialization where the child internalizes the social reality, and secondary socialization which is defined as “the internalization of institutional or institution-based ‘sub-worlds’” (1966:158). Even if studies within socialization mostly were conducted on other premises than those of social constructivism, they often depict in detail parts of the process of learning the social reality. The notion of role models originated for instance in child development theories, especially social learning theory and cognitive development theory (Speizer, 1981). Many studies have focused on parents and teachers as role models for young children or college students. In the organizational context, these issues have been often discussed within the area of organizational socialization. This literature usually starts from an assumption that the senior members have important effect on the socialization process of newcomers (Avery, 1968; Czarniawska, 1998; Ibarra, 1999; Louis, 1980; Marcson, 1968; Schein, 1992; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). Role models are looked for and found among superiors, peers and other co-workers. They provide the newcomer with information regarding task mastery, role clarification, social integration, and emotional information (Adkins, 1995; Feldman (1989) and Feldman (1994); Louis, 1980; Reichers, 1987). Recent research suggests that role models are important across the whole career span (Gibson, 2003). Even though role models are said to be important in organizational socialization, both the defining characteristics and the exact nature of their influence on newcomers are unclear (Jakobsen, 2003). Role models are said to be helping newcomers to learn tacit rules and signalling important personal traits (Ibarra, 1999; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). In most works, it is implicitly assumed that “role models” are actual persons. In the present context, it would be more correct to say that persons treated as role models appear to possess certain traits and display certain skills. The relationship between a role model and a newcomer requires only that the newcomers desire to be perceived similarly to the model ( Fisher, 1988; Gibson & Cordova, 1999). Ibarra (1999, p. 766) ascribed more complexity to the process suggesting that role modelling was the process “by which people negotiate, with themselves and with others, what identities they craft as they assume a new work role”. It should be pointed out, however, that role modelling, like socialization of which it is a part, is a partly unconscious process. One can conclude, with Gibson, Cordova and Ibarra, that it is a conscious and unconscious identification; conscious and unconscious imitation of desires ( Sevón, 1996), but also negotiations—with oneself and the others. Identification, imitation, and negotiation are all terms specifying the nature of the oscillating movement between models and prototypes Latour (2002) spoke of; they are all elements of identity construction. Narrowing the field: gender and role modelling The reason for a repeatedly formulated demand for female role models is, as Fisher (1988) pointed out, the assumption that men are successful because they are numerous in workplaces and therefore can have many role models. As Virginia Schein pointed out 1975, when people think “manager”, they think “male”. It is thus presumed that if only women had many female role models, the gender proportion of men and women in, e.g., management positions would be different. Thus, there exists an abundant research literature that attributes women's numerical under-representation among senior management in organizations to lack of appropriate role models (Ely, 1995; Hewlett & Luce, 2005; Kanter, 1977; Noe, 1988; Vinnicombe & Colwill, 1995; Wahl, 1992). According to the literature discussing female role models, lack of models creates identity problems, which make it difficult for women to learn suitable organizational behaviour (Noe, 1988; Ibarra, 1999; Wahl, 1992), which might result in isolation (Blomqvist, 1994), which hinder women from becoming recognized as managerial candidates in male-dominated occupations (Noe, 1988), and which make it difficult for women to find alternative to male managers’ behaviour (Drew & Murtagh, 2005). Where there are few women at the senior level, it is more difficult for junior female employees to develop gender roles that are satisfying to themselves and consistent with the company's norms and expectations. In contrast, junior female employees within companies that employ more women at a senior level tend to display loyalty to the company, to develop less problematic and stereotyped gender roles, and to combine expressions of masculinity with expressions of femininity with ease (Ely, 1995). These examples of “role models” indicate that the authors had actual women in mind (for contrast, see Ibarra, 1999; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). That is, researchers think of concrete persons as role models, who can be used by newcomers to model their own behaviour without interruption or disturbance. The interruptions or disturbances could for instance be caused by certain qualities, which the newcomer does not appreciate and which thereby hinder the modelling. As will be shown in this paper, newcomers do not evoke actual persons but an image composed of impressions of actual persons in their role modelling. Women in top positions serve as inspiration and living signs that the glass ceiling can be shattered (Bank & Vinnicombe, 1995). A woman who is treated as a role model, however, may experience such framing as stressful, especially if she is seen as symbolizing and representing all women in the organization (Fisher, 1988; Vinnicombe & Colwill, 1995; Wahl, Holgersson, Höök, & Linghag, 2001). One alternative is therefore to propagate such models via media and popular literature, where professional women are often presented as “wonder-women” in managing their private and professional lives (Conradson & Rundqvist, 1997). Gherardi (1995) analysed media presentations of women managers who were described as both professionally competent (the successful manager) and gender competent (the perfect cook). The journalists seem to assume that such wonder-women will serve as role models for other women and, as Gherardi points out, these women indeed embody the gender construction in organizations (Bowring, 2004, discusses in a similar vein Star Wars’ heroine Captain Janeway). Already here a need for a differentiation between actual women (as perceived by themselves and others) and images or representations used for a construction of a role model becomes apparent. It is also usual to assume that role modelling is primarily same-sex dependent, that is women need female role models, and men need male role models (e.g. Bank & Vinnicombe, 1995; Noe, 1988; Vinnicombe & Colwill, 1995). Already in the 1970s, however, two studies of undergraduates at women's colleges reported that male as well as female role models were important for women in career (Almquist & Angrist, 1971, 1975, quoted in Speizer, 1981). In most organizations men occupy the majority of senior positions, which must influence the employees’ construction of their identities. In a study of women's attitude to achievement and their possible fear of success, Paludi and Fankell-Hauser (1986) demonstrated that the women's role models were predominantly men. Especially older women named men as their role models. Further, Gibson and Cordova (1999) found out that both men and women described their role models half in terms of such organizational attributes as organizational effectiveness (technical expertise, leadership ability, and financial success) and half in terms of personal attributes (handling the balance between personal and professional life, interpersonal skills, and personal traits and values). According to their study, female role models were less likely than male role models to be described as organizationally effective, but were often appraised on the basis of their ability to manage their personal and professional lives. Men were more likely to choose female role models in settings that were gender balanced—a result that contradicts the idea of a need for same-sex role models and indicates the composite character of role models. Gibson and Cordova's (1999, p. 138) results showed that women were more likely than men to construct cross-sex role models; less likely to find role models who shared their concerns of finding a life-work balance; less likely to have specific individuals as role models; and more likely to identify negative role models. They concluded that a lack of women role models calls for more sophisticated cognitive operations from female observers, which made organizational life more difficult for women than for men. A similar conclusion has been reached by Ely (1995), who argued that the development of a non-stereotyped gender identity can be encouraged in younger women by men in senior positions in gender-integrated companies; by men who are supportive of women. Another study contrasting the usual assumption that women need other women for role models can be found in an investigation of gender equality at Uppsala University by Mats Alvesson (1998). One of the female teachers interviewed by Alvesson mentioned as a possible female role model a successful woman, who was however disqualified-because she was childless and, it needs to be added, because she was considered an “uninteresting, lacking personality… not someone I can admire” (p. 20). A young mother who was a Ph.D. candidate (and was considered beautiful) was judged to qualify as a model. A conclusion drawn by Alvesson was that it is not merely a problem of too few women; the problem is that while many men managers can (more or less) serve as models, not all female managers can. Most studies suggest that role modelling takes place in encounters between the newly employed and the competent members as a part of the socialization of newcomers (Avery, 1968; Czarniawska, 1998; Ibarra, 1999; Louis, 1980; Marcson, 1968; Schein, 1992; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). Most often, the concept of role modelling alludes to a creation of an idealized image ( Fisher, 1988). However, especially among the early definitions of role model, there is also an understanding of a role model as an actual person, someone who “possesses skills and displays techniques which the actor lacks … and from whom, by observation and comparison with his own performance the actor can learn” ( Kemper, 1968, p. 33). It is my contention here that a conceptual distinction between an actual person and an idealized image may be helpful in charting the complexities of organizational socialization. Organizational socialization is seen here as a process of construction of a workplace identity (Louis, 1980; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). A part of this process is role modelling, which in turn involves a construction of a role model. This may proceed by re-constructing an image of an actual person into an image that will serve as a role model. The role model is thus, as it will be shown below, a product of operations of idealization and composition performed on the image of the actual person. In order to simplify the conceptual apparatus while preserving the distinction, I suggest that images of actual persons used in construction of role models to be called proto-models, whereas images used for modelling behaviour to be called role models. Thus, the role model the newcomer act upon is a construction from several proto-models (see Fig. 1). The process of role modelling. Fig. 1. The process of role modelling. Figure options In stressing this difference I find myself in agreement with Fisher (1988), although she did not use the same terminology. Employees who observe and compare their performance with a successful manager's, limit their observation to selected skills or traits that they believe are the decisive ones. Role modelling begins thus with comparing the image of oneself to the image, or images, of actual person or persons (what I call proto-models). In such process, various things can happen: anything from finding something to imitate to finding things to avoid. A woman might decide, “This person is a man, how can I imitate him?” or “This person has skills which I want to learn too.” The part of the process that consists of selecting positive or negative traits or deeds of a concrete person is called here an idealization, while the part consisting in assembling such traits or deeds in a role model—a composition. Both parts contribute to a construction of a role model. Without introducing a specific concept, Fisher (1988, p. 218) also emphasizes this differentiation: “With all our hearts, we want our role model to be out there. But, even though we may find a variety of people to help us in this struggle, and even though we may adopt some of them as role models, these people and the models we make of them are not the same.” Before I turn to the field material that illustrates the need for and the results of this distinction, I will briefly summarize the field study from which it has been taken, and provide a short description of the field in question