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Women managing women: hierarchical relationships and career impact
Career Development International  (IF3.792),  Pub Date : 2020-04-02, DOI: 10.1108/cdi-01-2019-0020
Jouharah M. Abalkhail

This paper explores the experiences of women in Saudi Arabia who have been managed by other women, and examines how junior women perceive senior women's role in advancing their career.,The paper is based on qualitative data gathered using in-depth semi-structured interviews undertaken with 30 women working in Saudi public organisations.,This study's findings shows that the hierarchical relationships between women and their woman manager are complex due to a multifaceted web of contextual factors including sociocultural values, family values, religious beliefs and organisational cultures and structures. These factors shape the quality of relationships between senior women and their women subordinates. Also, this study reveals that there is solidarity and ‘sisterly’ relationship between women in the workplace that plays a role in facilitating women's career development and advancement. In addition, this study shows that despite senior women's having supported other women's career advancement, this support tended to be conditional and limited. This can have an influence on women-to-women work relationships, where such relationships can be described as being disconnected and fragile. Furthermore, the study depict that there is evidence of the existence of ‘Queen Bee’-like senior women who distance themselves from other women and block their career advancement. The Queen Bee phenomena can actually become a form of hierarchy that mimics the patriarchal structure and excludes women from serving at top management levels.,This paper provides an in-depth understanding of the hierarchical relationships between women in the workplace and how these relationships have an influence on women's career advancement. Therefore, the paper makes a valuable contribution to the scarce knowledge that currently exists within the field of management research in relation to women's career development – and the advancement of such research within the Arab Middle Eastern context. Also, the findings of this study could potentially inform practitioners and HR department personnel within organisations about the connections between women's hierarchical workplace relationships and women's career development and advancement.