ABSTRACT

This chapter is the first of four empirical chapters to examine the relationship between hegemonic masculinities, masculine cultures and the gendering process, that is, how employers construct women and men as different workers. This relationship is predicated on the concept of homogeneity, and four factors will be used to analyze this construction. The first is the gendered construction of leadership, and how certain types of masculine bodies, dress and embodiment represent the ideal leader. The “right bodies” are often associated with trust – a key component of relationship management – and this can be particularly important for executives. The embodiment of leadership ability also encompasses gendered styles of management. Although there have been debates for decades over the management styles of women and men (Donnell and Hall 1980; Marshall 1984; Rees 2003; Wajcman 1998), what must be considered is how those who make hiring and promotion decisions perceive women’s and men’s leadership capabilities. The second factor is aggressive behavior. Even though being aggressive is an important component of leadership, it is not always appreciated in women executives, especially in those women who work in predominantly male areas. This was a topic of intense debate among interviewees, often resulting in negative comments about the levels of aggressiveness among American women and in Margaret Thatcher. Pejorative references to aggressive “foreigners” may have indicated that they were objects of derision; however, “foreign” female executives sometimes felt they had more freedom to behave aggressively.