Gender Segregation and Trajectories of Organizational Change: Explaining the Underrepresentation of Women in Sports Leadership

Madeleine Laura Pape*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article offers an account of organizational change to explain why women leaders are underrepresented compared to women athletes in many sports organizations. I distinguish between accommodation and transformation as forms of change: the former includes women without challenging binary constructions of gender, the latter transforms an organization’s gendered logic. Through a case study of the International Olympic Committee from 1967-1995, I trace how the organization came to define gender equity primarily in terms of accommodating women’s segregated athletic participation. Key to this was the construction of women’s bodies as athletically able but inferior to men, an arrangement formalized in codified rules and procedures and legitimized by external stakeholders. Defined in these terms, gender equity did little to transform the organization’s binary and hierarchically gendered logic, which continued to shape the informal norms and procedures associated with the organization’s allegedly gender-neutral and meritocratic yet male-dominated leadership. I argue that the exclusion of women from ostensibly gender-integrated leadership positions allows organizations to avoid revealing gender similarity between men and women. This maintains a logic underpinned by notions of binary gender difference and masculine superiority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGender and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • bodies
  • gender
  • gender binary
  • leadership
  • organizational logic
  • segregation
  • sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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