Managing Gender Role Conflicts in Interactions with Clients: Women's Experiences in PSFs

Nathalie Bitbol-Saba, Caroline Julie Demeyere

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    Professional service firms have been described as male-dominated and client-oriented organizations. This article focuses on role conflict management for women during interactions with clients. Building on Goffman's work on interactions, roles, and gender, we aim to understand how female professionals manage role conflicts during interactions with their clients and which gender dynamics underpin these interactions. The methodology combines observations of client-professional interactions, semi-structured interviews with professionals and their clients, and documentary collection. Our sample consists of a total of 66 informants. Data collection took place from 2011 to 2021, enabling insights into the impacts of the #MeToo movement on practices and discourses in professional service firms. Our findings suggest that female professionals engage in seven different ways of managing role conflicts during interactions with clients, especially mother-professional and sexual object--professional role conflicts. The typology we propose enriches the existing literature, which focuses mainly on role conflict management with internal stakeholders, and on the practice of women masculinizing themselves. Although most of the ways female professionals manage role conflicts reveal conformity to the established masculine order and contribute to reproducing male domination, the emerging voicing strategy we identify may challenge it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
    EditorsSonja Taneja
    Number of pages1
    Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
    PublisherAcademy of Management
    Publication date2022
    Publication statusPublished - 2022
    EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, United States
    Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
    Conference number: 82


    ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    Internet address
    SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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