Navigating the Glass Ladder: A Qualitative Exploration of the Challenges Women Leaders Experience throughout the Process of Promotion in the Manufacturing Industry
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As the presence of women in the workplace continues to increase and significant strides have been undertaken to ensure fair and equitable treatment of women in industry, a considerable gap remains in the representation of women in leadership roles in maledominated industries (Saraçoğlu, Memiş, Voyvoda, & Kızılırmak, 2018). Gender discrimination brought on by stereotypical gender beliefs regarding “men’s work” versus “women’s work” is pervasive in the male-dominated industry of manufacturing (Levine, 2009; Massey, 2014; Sweida & Reichard, 2013). This study explored the experiences of women as they navigated promotion in the manufacturing sector. Through the lens of role congruity theory, this study investigated if the experiences women faced are similar to those of men. Additionally, this study examined the tactics women used to garner promotion and whether or not these tactics related to constructs of power as compared to French and Raven’s (1959) bases of social power and Raven’s (1992, 2008) interpersonal power interaction model. Hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology was used to explore the lived experiences of both men and women in manufacturing. Findings indicated that women's experiences in manufacturing are markedly disparate from those of their male counterparts. Because of work and job culture expectations, women, with a few exceptions, were relegated to more clerical type roles and achieved opportunities for advancement differently and more slowly than men. For those who were not in clerical roles, each possessed college degrees. Further findings in the study indicated that women utilized power tactics to gain promotion, and those tactics varied subject to the gender of the power holder. This research presents models that illustrate how women and men may use power tactics to influence the power holder’s promotion decisions. Women appeared to use expert power, coercive power (with reward power), and referent power when the power holder was male. If the power holder were female, women used expert and referent power. As expected, men took advantage of networks in addition to expert, legitimate, and referent power. This study, then, discussed the implications of its research, elucidated the study’s limitations, and prescribed future areas for further investigation.