Academic journal article Management Revue

Mind the (Gender) Gap. Gender, Gender Role Types, and Their Effects on Objective Career Success over Time**

Academic journal article Management Revue

Mind the (Gender) Gap. Gender, Gender Role Types, and Their Effects on Objective Career Success over Time**

Article excerpt

Drawing on ideas by Pierre Bourdieu, this paper analyzes the effects of gender and gender role type (GRT) for objective career success (i.e., income) over time. Empirically, data from two cohorts of business school graduates were analyzed with mixed linear models. Gender and GRT, both perceived as career capital, progressively affect objective career success over time, with feminine GRT hampering objective career success for both sexes. Remaining results vary between the two cohorts: findings for the younger cohort deviate more strongly from the hypotheses derived.

Key words: objective career success, longitudinal study, Bourdieu


In order to understand the antecedents of career success, human capital as well as social capital variables have been examined thoroughly (Seibert/Kraimer 2001; Seibert et al. 2001). One of them is arguably gender (Melamed 1995), which is crucial in career research, leading to different career experiences (see e.g. Banks et al. 1992; Cleveland et al. 2000; Lyness /Thompson 1997; Mallon/Cohen 2001; Powell/Mainiero 1992). Nevertheless, a recent handbook in the field (Gunz/Peiperl 2007) calls for a better conceptualization of the very definition of gender in career studies (Granrose 2007: 89). On another level, researchers advocate the inclusion of the temporal aspect of careers with designs allowing for longitudinal analyses in order to prevent spurious conclusions (Judge /Kammeyer-Mueller 2007: 74). On top of this, career research all too often neglects its contextual embedment (Peiperl/Gunz 2007: 52), resulting in a call for a coherent theory combining several aspects of careers (Mayrhofer/Schneidhofer 2009).

This paper picks up these three issues. First, it operationalizes gender in a twodimensional manner with the concept of gender role types (GRT) as key independent variable (see also Abele 1994; Eckes 2004; Schruijer 2006). Thus, it overcomes the strict dichotomy of male/female and enlarges the concept of gender in career research. Second, the analyses use a panel study consisting of two cohorts of business school graduates (1990 and 2000) of a large Central European university, allowing a longitudinal analysis of income as a measure of objective career success and its changes in the course of the first twelve and seven years, respectively. Third, it draws on ideas of Pierre Bourdieu and hence allows to prescind from "men" and "women" as points of departure to "relations" as "realisations of historical acting" (Bourdieu/Wacquant 1996: 160) which explicitly includes the social context within which practices take place (Engler 2004: 223). On top of this, in the course of the interplay of social fields, capital, and habitus, gender as well as gender role type are conceptualized as conversion of accumulated capital, which is consequently a "competence" sensu Bourdieu (1998: 166).

Thus, the paper makes three contributions to management and career research: (i) It provides an additional perspective potentially leading to a more fine-grained understanding of gender as a crucial variable relevant for career outcomes that is linked with the broader context careers are embedded in - which touches management practices (e.g. gender equality efforts) as well as legal or sociological developments. (U) The paper explicitly includes a temporal dimension built into careers. By focusing on the idea of social fields, the dynamic interplay of field, habitus and capital comes into focus. (Ui) In doing so, it applies a theory building bridges across different disciplines (i.e., literature from the gender discussion, macro-sociology, management research), thus providing a more comprehensive picture of influences on career success while at the same time actively responding to the frequent calls for more interdisciplinarity.

Theoretical lenses

The concepts of gender and gender role type in career research

The current conceptualization of "gender" in career research is based on a dichotomization, resulting in a binary separation of men and women when addressing career and career success issues (see e. …

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