Gender, Power, and Organisation: A Psychological Perspective

By Paula Nicolson | Go to book overview
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Chapter 8



Women and men live different lives and have different careers. It frequently takes many years of trial and error before an individual woman is able to recognise this and identify the implications for her own working experience. As men hold the authority in all professional organisations, the burden falls on women to make sense of the culture and its constraints and develop suitable coping strategies. The result is that women commonly find individualised means of survival (Marshall, 1984; Cassell and Walsh, 1993; McKenzie Davey, 1993), which gives rise to both the myth and the reality of the Queen Bee or 'Female Barracuda' (Ussher, 1990b; Morris, 1994). A self-fulfilling prophecy may be involved; to survive a woman has both to fail other women and isolate her emotional self from men.

Power is, by nature, a rare commodity and beyond the grasp of most women and men, but still it is almost exclusively in the hands of men. As Celia Morris (1994) proposes therefore, therefore, 'It should come as no surprise…that women have looked on other women as rivals in the competition for scarce resources-whether for men, positions or esteem-or that they've scapegoated those who try to do things differently' (p. 233). But, as argued in the earlier chapters, there is little future in being an isolated woman, however outstanding that makes an individual feel. There are less opportunities for connection or being supported and mentored. The only hope for denting patriarchy is for women to support other women unequivocally.


If women are to take their rightful power, there will have to be a vast surge in


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