PhD Studentship Ambition, Competition and Cooperation: Gendered Concepts for Women in Leadership and Management

Ambition, Competition and Cooperation: Gendered Concepts for Women in Leadership and Management

Interest is sought for a Northumbria University funded full-time PhD student at Newcastle Business School, to study how the concepts of ambition, competition and cooperation are gendered and how these are understood and experienced by women in leadership and management. In particular, the research will focus upon how ambition, competition and cooperation are experienced between women in senior positions in organisations. Explorations of intra-gender ambition, competition and cooperation between women, is part of the on-going Senior Women at Work (SWAW) research project led by Professor Sharon Mavin and Dr. Jannine Williams and involving Dr. Nicola Patterson, Dr. Gina Grandy and Dr. Patricia Bryans.

Women in senior positions in organisations have achieved a traditionally “masculine strategic situation” (Tyler, 2005: 569) in breaking through the gendered glass ceiling (Morrison et al., 1992) and in doing so may be viewed as no longer “the organizational second sex” or “Others of management” (Tyler, 2005: 572). Such women are assumed to engage in social relations involving ambition, competition and cooperation, performing and enacting interpretations in everyday social relations. Mavin, Williams and Grandy (2013 forthcoming) argue that intra-gender relations between men, whilst they may be competitive (Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005; Keisling, 2005) and instrumental (Collinson and Hearn, 2005), are characterised as involving degrees of simultaneous cooperation, support and friendship (Collinson and Hearn, 2005), interconnected with homosocial desire (Keisling, 2005). These enactments of masculinity shape organizing norms and performance criteria, against which women are assessed. An assumption underpinning the proposed study is that these social relations may not be experienced in the same way between women and, that rather than being able to simultaneously compete and cooperate, the complexities women experience within gendered contexts facilitate a chasm in social relations between them that requires exploration. This chasm may impact upon and constrain women’s potential for further progress in organizational hierarchies.

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The study will build upon research from a social constructionist perspective and extend the Senior Women at Work research project in exploring discursive and performative elements of women’s ambition, competition and cooperation between women, using qualitative methods. Research by the SWAW research team and their previous identity and diversity publications forms the context for this invitation to develop understandings of ambition, competition and cooperation between women in leadership and management.  

This research will be conducted within the Organisation and Human Resource Management Subject Group at Newcastle Business School.

For further details on working on this project, please contact Professor Sharon Mavin,

You should apply using the Application form via the ‘Apply’ button below. Applications should be submitted to Sarah Jukes, Programme Support Co-ordinator, via email to:

Deadline for applications: 13 December 2013
Interviews will be held during January 2014
The project start date will be in February 2014

Funding Notes:
This is one of eight projects advertised in competition for two funded studentship places. Applicants should only apply to one of the eight projects advertised.

Each studentship place is funded by Northumbria University, and includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (in 2013/14 this is £13,726 pa) and Home/EU fees.

Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide; however non-EU nationals will have to pay the difference between the home tuition fees and the overseas tuition fees.

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