Exclusion and inclusion of women by corporate cultural processes : A case study in the IT and finance industries

University essay from KTH/Organisation och ledning

Abstract: This Master thesis investigates how cultural processes exclude, or might include, women from the corporate culture as well as how the cultural processes could impact the women’s abilities to career advancement within an organization that operates in the financial and IT industries. Previous studies have provided knowledge about culture and gender relations within the financial (Rutherford, 2001; Renemark, 2007) and IT-sectors (Davies and Mathieu, 2005: 12-22) respectively, but there is a lack of studies of financial service organizations in Sweden that operates in both these industries. These industries are described in earlier studies as having an uneven female representation at managerial levels (Nordling and Samuelsson, 2014; Rutherford, 2001) and organizational cultures that marginalizes women (Renemark, 2007; Davies and Mathieu, 2005: 12-22; Rutherford, 2001). Thereof is the corporate culture’s effect on women and female managers in particular, important to understand in an organizational constellation that strives to increase the number of female managers such as the case company in this study. This study utilizes a theoretical framework defined by Rutherford (2001) comprising nine cultural constituents that are interpreted as including several cultural processes. These cultural constituents are organizational background, Physical artefacts, Management style, the Long hours culture, Work ideology, Informal ways of socializing, Language and communication, Sexuality, and Gender awareness. The nine cultural constituents and the respective processes could have excluding effects, or possible including effects, on female managers position in the corporate culture and impact their further career advancement. In this study is the framework used to investigate the situation for female managers as well as the situation for the female employees as perceived at the managerial level. A case study methodology is used and the including data collection methods are; semi-structured interviews, secondary data, and a field study. Nine semi-structured interviews with managers that directly report to the executive team members constitute the main data gathering method. The findings show the existence of cultural processes related to all nine constituents at the case organization and how these processes impact women. These cultural processes exclude or include women from the corporate culture and impact female career advancement negatively or positively. The identified excluding cultural processes could constitute managerial implications for gender equality work. In addition, the findings provide knowledge of how the generic framework defined by Rutherford (2001) could be applied in the present corporate environment of an actor that operates in the Swedish IT and financial industries. Further, two adjustments of the framework are proposed. The constant connectivity provided by today’s technology proposes a more interlinked relationship between the long hour culture and the work ideology than earlier defined. Further, an extension of the cultural constituent Informal ways of socializing is proposed to incorporate several hierarchical levels to be applicable for young and less hierarchical actors.

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