Exploring the sex role identity of female managers and its perceived impact on their career growth opportunities.

Nkuna, Mikateko Fanisa
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study aimed to uncover and document experiences of female managers by focusing on the sex role identities they adopt and what they perceive the impact of these (sex role identities) on their career growth to be. Thus this study draws on the field of sex role identity, particularly Bem‟s (1974) Theory of Androgyny. This theory has made a major contribution in shifting the study of leadership and management behaviour from relying on gender role approach to focusing more on sex role identity. Gender role approach tends to predict leadership behaviour on the basis of sex, while sex role identity predicts leadership on the basis of social roles that people assume in their lives (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001; Gedney, 1999; Korabik & Ayman, 1987; Park, 1997). The present study builds on the contestations between research that suggests that masculine and androgynous management styles are the most desirable and successful (Korabik & Ayman, 1987) versus one that argues that the two styles may lead to discrimination (agentic backlash) for female managers (Rudman & Glick, 1999, 2001). Further, these aforementioned studies were conducted on American and European populations, and so the present study aimed to investigate if similar findings could be found on a South African sample. Eleven androgynous female managers from different South African organisations in Johannesburg were interviewed for this study. Major findings indicated that agentic female managers do experience agentic backlash. However, agentic backlash was not perceived by the female managers to have a negative impact on career growth opportunities. Instead perceived work-family conflict and lack of a “supportive” environment were considered to be a hindrance in the career growth of female (managers).