Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management
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Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management

Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out

Edited by Adelina M. Broadbridge and Sandra L. Fielden

Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management provides an international overview of current practice and theory surrounding gendered employment in management, illustrating the impact of gender on key stages of career development.
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Chapter 8: ‘This is just the way it is’: executive search and gendered careers

Charlotte Holgersson and Janne Tienari


In this chapter, we explore gendered careers in management with a particular focus on executive search. We highlight the ways in which executive search consultants – or headhunters, as they are commonly known – describe the search process and make sense of the persistent lack of women in top business positions. As professional service providers, executive search consultants are influential in the contemporary global economy. Recruitment of key individuals in companies, as well as public sector and not-for-profit organizations, is increasingly carried out with the confidential help of external experts. Executive search consultants assist decision-makers in identifying, evaluating, and recruiting competent and suitable people for their top positions (Coverdill and Finlay, 1998). In so doing, they act as gatekeepers in elite labour markets (Faulconbridge et al., 2009). On a general level it is well established that executive search sustains the powerful position of white men in business life (Dreher et al., 2011; Doldor et al., 2012).

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