Coping with stress and surviving the male-oriented organisational culture: The case of exemplary Icelandic female leaders

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Previous research haas demonstrated that the corporate ladder is more slippery for women than men. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to shoulder responsibilities in their personal life (the third shift), even if they earn more than their spouses and this is even the case with women in top management positions. Iceland is renowned for its position at the top of the Gender Equality Index for 12 years in a row. Even so, Icelandic women are still a minority of managers and CEOs and until early 2021, no company registered in the Icelandic Stock Market was governed by a woman. Now they are two. This paper presents the experience of nine exemplary women leaders and their experience in dealing with male-oriented corporate culture and coping with gender-based obstacles, stress and challenges related to the gender-based third shift. Findings demonstrate that participants all had their horror stories and bad experiences of toxic management styles, mansplaining and gender-based harassment, and having to deal with ,,organisational housework“ in order to prove their worth. Findings also emphasized that coping with stress is an important factor in preventing burnout and help prospective female leaders to reach their potential in top management positions. Other factors like support network, family-based support, healthy lifestyle, having a ,,good husband“ and other general support in their private life played an important role in their careers. Findings also indicate that toxic masculinity and male-oriented company culture make the corporate ladder more slippery for women.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Globale Economy in Business, Management, Social Science and Humanity Perspective
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2022


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