University of Leicester
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The role of gender role perceptions in career success: Female business leaders in Turkish society

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posted on 2018-09-03, 10:42 authored by Özlem Ada
This dissertation examines the self-reported gender role perceptions and the socio-cultural factors that make these perceptions available for Turkish women business leaders in the fast moving consumer goods sector. In Turkey, the share of employed women is 24% while women’s representation on boards is 8% which is comparable to that of most developed countries (WEF, 2014). Therefore, it is important to understand how Turkish women get a comparable share of representation on boards in a country where the share of women’s employment is almost half of that of the developed countries. Twenty women leaders were interviewed in order to understand their gender role perceptions with respect to enabling socio-cultural factors that they think influenced their career success. They reported that they were exposed to a social environment where there are less traditional rules regarding gender roles as well as less social pressure and criticism for their non-traditional behaviours as compared to many women in Turkey. The women leaders also explained that in their social environment, they perceived their role to be both mothers and career women. The women leaders in this study reported a preference for career success which is also claimed by Hakim’s Theory. However, the participants in this study explained that social-cultural, family and personal situations influenced their career and life choices. The women leaders reported that modern gender role perceptions, education that propels a Westernized understanding of gender roles, and the financial and emotional support of their liberal families, particularly male figures, provided favourable conditions for their career success. Moreover, these male figures put pressure on the women in this study to be successful at school and later at work. This pressure encouraged the women leaders to be successful in order not to disappoint these male figures who trusted and supported them. These findings support that it is not only the preferences but also the constraints and influencers that shape the life and career success of the women leaders in this study. Furthermore, the women leaders explicitly denied the existence of a glass ceiling but simultaneously described circumstances that indicated that there had been a glass ceiling without acknowledging it as such. These findings contribute to the understanding of the role of gender role perceptions in Turkish women leaders’ career success. The findings also expand the understanding on the enabling socio-cultural factors that influence the gender role perceptions of Turkish women leaders. They thus contribute to the discussions on Hakim’s theory which disregards the influence of constraints on women’s career choices and advancement from a perspective of a developing country.



Williams, Glynne; Rudloff, Daniela

Date of award


Author affiliation

Centre for Labour Market Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DSocSci



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