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Gender and Performance Appraisal System in a Maltese Banking Institution: How do gendered organisations assess women's performance?

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posted on 09.01.2018, 11:06 authored by Angele Ellul Fenech
Despite increasing awareness of gender equality, significant inequalities in Maltese paid employment persist. The theory of gendered organisations predicts that norms and practices in organisations serve to construct the experience of gender practice. Drawing on the work of Acker (1990), this study aims to discover how gender disparity is reproduced within the performance appraisal system. The performance appraisal process was investigated by conducting 29 semi structured interviews both with male and female appraisees undergoing performance appraisal, and with appraisers. Interview analysis identified attendance at the organisation’s social activities as being the appraisers’ most highly valued assessment criterion. Collecting data from multiple sources provided rich information, affording the opportunity to verify from each key respondent how men and women who work in the same role and undergo appraisal are considered to be two different types of worker. The study found that participants justified this difference in terms of biological arguments: by drawing from the different biological functions associated with motherhood. Examining the importance of social activities, the study revealed the ways in which exclusive and distinctive strategies are applied when women attempt to socialise in the same way as their male colleagues. These strategies interlink with the local cultural meaning of sociability that guides appraisers in assessing their peers. Consulting French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, the study discovered how social norms embedded in the appraisers’ norms are regenerative in the way that appraisees experience the evaluation process. For the purposes of this study, a local financial company offered a unique opportunity to explore how gendered norms are more powerful than increasing women’s representation in organisations when discussing gender gaps in organisations. Applying Bourdieu’s habitus concept can help explain gender in work and organisations, in the way that employees bring to bear in their practical knowledge of the socially structured world in which they live.



Kanji, Shireen; Vargha, Zsuzsanna; Rudloff, Daniela

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Centre for Labour Market Studies

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University of Leicester

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