Outsiders within : women in management in the public service in Aotearoa/New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis explores the management practices of a small number of women in management positions within a large government department in New Zealand, and the factors influencing those practices. Using a feminist standpoint epistemology the study took as its starting point the day to day experiences of managers and their staff. Through analysis of these experiences the context of New Public Management and the reforms of the public sector in New Zealand that took place in the 1980's and 1990's were identified as important features in the management practices of the participants. The study found that the doctrines of New Public Management were embedded within the organisation from which participants were drawn. Within this context, they had an organising or mediating effect on the day to day management practices of the participants, what they valued, how they perceived management and the language they used to talk of their experiences. Overall the participants did not consider that gender relations created either supports or constraints to their management practices or their entry into management positions. They considered that gender-related constraints were a thing of the past. They did, however, note particular events that suggested that women managers continue to be judged in relation to deeply held gender stereotypes. The management practices that the participants valued and/or described as their own practice did not conform to the gendered dichotomies of management that have been prevalent in the literature on successful management and women in management in particular. The participants demonstrated a more androgynous approach to management that is adaptive and sensitive to the wider context.