Kvindekønnet og ledelse: En kandidatafhandling omhandlende kvindelige mellemlederes meningsskabelse om deres avanceringsmuligheder

Martin Tangstad

Student thesis: Master thesis


Since the 1960s, when women made their entrance into the labour market, “women in management” has been a widely debated topic, and in recent years focus in this debate has especially been centered on the uneven distribution of management positions among the sexes - in particular the fact that even though women‟s qualifications are at an all time high and have outmatched men‟s qualifications, the share of women in management has stagnated while men continue to dominate management positions. Female middle managers find themselves in the midst of this heated debate and the focus point of this thesis is how they relate to and make sense of all of this in relation to their advancement possibilities. Building on Karl E. Weick‟s (1995) theory of sensemaking, this thesis views sensemaking as the process through which meaning is constructed by the use of sensemaking stories; stories which from a narrative framework are constructed through the application of actants, plot and genre. With this in mind, I will first analyze how female middle managers‟ sensemaking narratives can be divided into two distinct types of narratives in which the women understand their advancement possibilities as either unlimited and possible, or limited and impossible depending on the level of opposition they face in relation to advancement. Subsequently, the female middle managers‟ sensemaking narratives are associated with discourses on “women in management”. As such, the analysis places the female middle managers‟ sensemaking about their advancement possibilities into a wider and more varied context. I will then discuss female middle managers‟ sensemaking together with their discursive association and understanding of “women in management”, and its consequences for women in management. My conclusion is that female middle managers interpellate and perform a recognizable sex which makes recognizable women and management mutually exclusive, resulting in the notion that it is impossible for women to be leaders and for leaders to be women. The thesis is rounded off with several considerations useful for future work with “women in management”.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages261