The Construction of Management

The Construction of Management

Competence and Gender Issues at Work

Brownen Ann Rees

Despite continuing equal opportunity approaches, women are still significantly under-represented at senior management levels and earn less than male colleagues. The author questions whether competence systems – developed and implemented in the workplace to provide objective measurement of management performance – contribute to, rather than improve, women’s disadvantaged position in the workplace.

Introduction

Brownen Ann Rees

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies

Extract

Management and its discourses are playing ever more important roles in our lives. The political events in the UK of the 1980s and 1990s, growth of enterprise culture, reduction of manufacturing and an increase in the service sector has led to an increase in the numbers of people ‘managing’ (as opposed to producing). The discourse of ‘new managerialism’ carries in its wake an enormous swell of growth in business schools and academic and practitioner writings in the field. ‘Managing’ pervades our lives, and yet our understanding of the concept is problematic. It can be viewed as a set of ideas, an activity and a subject, depending on our perspective. Despite this conceptual ambiguity, however, the past decades in the UK have been characterised by increasing calls for furthering the ‘development’ of managers and building up a stock of trained and ‘competent’ managers in order to render the UK more competitive. Further, it seems that ‘competent managers’ are becoming the spearhead of globalising processes, and throughout the world ‘international competencies’ are being called for and developed in multinationals and their subsidiaries. The reach of ‘competences’ has developed at an extraordinary rate. The processes and language used to develop these ‘competent’ managers are the focus of concern in this book. In particular, I am concerned with the hidden action of power, and its potential impact on women managers. At one level, views of what is good ‘management’ can be said to be changing. While there is growing reference in the literature to...