Discourses of Equality and Difference in Bank Managers' Talk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Women’s experiences of combining family life with employment – and a ’career’ – are complicated by the multiplicity of interpretations available. These interpretations draw on social discourses that articulate gender relations in contemporary societies. This article describes how women who have
themselves reached a managerial position in the world of business talk about combining a ’career’ with family life. Special attention is given to the discursive possibilities that are available for career women and how they successfully position themselves in ways that others find legitimate. The study suggests that the career women draw mainly on two competing and complementary
discourses, namely the equality and difference discourses, when talking about the combination of work, family and childrearing. The study further suggests that the use of these two discourses depends considerably on the position from which they talk: i.e. whether they talk about themselves as wage earners, parents, mothers or managers. When talking about their careers from the position of a wage earner, the women draw mainly on equality discourses, whereas when taking the position of a parent and/or a manager, they strongly identify with difference discourses. The study further suggests that rather than drawing a strong negative contrast between these different versions of the self, career women imaginatively integrate identities that seem to deny each other and construct a many-sided gender identity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)416-432
Number of pages17
JournalThe Finnish Journal of Business Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2000
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Field of science

  • Business and management

Citation for this output