This article attempts to explain the clustering of women managers at junior managerial grades in the service sector by focusing on the structuring and organization of work in a call centre. The article is based on an ethnography of an organization and seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate in gender research by exploring and documenting the requirement for the enactment of masculinities at work for successful managers. Central to our account is the role of team leader which, as a junior management position, occupies a key role in understanding and accounting for the gendered hierarchical terrain of contemporary service-based organizations. In exploring the role of team leader, a position that tends overwhelmingly to be held by female staff, we draw attention to the perception of the gendered nature of the role by subordinate members of the organization, the team-leaders themselves and more senior managers. The position is also brought into sharp relief in comparison with the subordinate role of the ‘problem manager’, a position overwhelmingly held by men.
- junior management
- masculinities and femininities
- gender practices
- service work