Stereotyping gender

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This paper takes its starting point in the problem faced by a specific Danish bank that women are grossly underrepresented in management positions, in spite of the great measure of initiatives taken over more than a century to ensure equal opportunities in Denmark. Danish women got the vote in 1915. Since then emancipation has been encouraged through public policy, symbolized more recently by the establishment of a Ministry for Equal Opportunities in 1999 and the passing of the Act of Equal Opportunities in 2002. However, although these initiatives have led to a situation of formal gender equality, there is still some way to go before genuine gender equality and emancipation may become reality, in spite of Denmark’s image as egalitarian society. To try to explain this paradox, the paper explores gender perceptions by analysing how men and women talk about gender in focus group discussions and how the two gender categories evaluate themselves and the Other in their quest for social identities. Analysis of the focus group data indicates that, more often than not, the interviewees resort to stereotyping in their construction of identities. Using the Appraisal framework (Martin and White 2005) for analysing stereotypical categorizations made by the interviewees, the article argues that employees in the bank tend to reproduce and perpetuate a patriarchal management system in spite of various forces pulling in a new post-patriarchal direction where gender is just one of many identities.


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