Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sharon Mavin
This paper offers a theory of respectable business femininity. Respectable business femininity is theorized as a discursive and relational process that explains tensions women elite leaders experience at the nexus of being both One and Other and sometimes privileged, embedded notions of leadership as masculine and wider expectations of acceptable embodied femininity. Such tensions manifest through a disciplining of women leaders' bodies and appearance by self-and-others, as a means of appraising women as credible elite leaders and respectable women. Through a qualitative study we show how, within sites of ambiguity, embodied leadership and subjectivities are both enabled and constrained. Accounts highlight how privilege is fluid and (de)stabilized in that it is conferred, contested and defended through women’s bodies and appearance. We advance understandings of contemporary respectable femininity, privilege at work, and body work, and consider practical implications for women leaders and management education.
Author(s): Mavin S, Grandy G
Publication type: Article
Journal: Gender, Work & Organization
Online publication date: 06/05/2016
Acceptance date: 07/02/2016
Print publication date: 01/07/2016
ISSN (print): 0968-6673
ISSN (electronic): 1468-0432
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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