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A social constructionist perspective of gender stereotyping at work: A case of highly skilled women in Sri Lanka

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Purpose ‐ This paper takes a social constructionist approach to explore how highly skilled women workers in Sri Lanka manage gender stereotyping in their workplaces. The purpose of this paper is to contribute new insights into existing understandings of women's careers in diverse socio-cultural contexts. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper is based on one-to-one in-depth interviews with 24 Sri Lankan women in early, mid and late career. Findings ‐ The findings reveal how the women in this sample used eight strategies to navigate through the various gender biases they perceived to impact on their careers. The implications of respondents' actions are highlighted. Originality/value ‐ This paper contributes to the limited literature on women's careers in South Asia and develops existing understandings of how women's actions contribute towards maintaining and/or redefining the gender biases they encounter (see Powell et al.). Furthermore, the empirical findings highlight differences in the ways women from public and private organisations manage gender biases, while illuminating the differential impact of gender stereotypes on women in early, mid and late career.

Keywords: Career; Gender stereotypes; Gender stereotyping; Social constructionism; Sri Lanka; Women; Work organizations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 28, 2012

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