Cracking the Gender Codes. Discourses on Women in Leadership and Management

Betina Wolfgang Rennison


Why do men continue to fill most of the senior executive positions and seats in the board of directors in Western corporations? Almost everyone agrees that diversity is good, many women are coming down the pipeline, and companies, states and international organizations and institutions have done extensive work to raise the proportion of women. This has helped slightly, but women remain underrepresented at the corporate top. Why is this so? What can be done to solve it? This article presents five different types of answers relating to five discursive codes: nature, talent, business, exclusion and empowerment. They all have conflicting views on the matter, each expressing its particular ‘regime of truth’. By decoding these codes, unfolding their arguments and blind spots, this article reveals the complexity of the debate. The point is that in our efforts to break the glass ceiling with respect to women in leadership management, we must become more aware and take advantage of this complexity. We must crack the codes in order to crack the curve.

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