Revisiting gender role stereotyping in the sales profession

Journal of Business Ethics 40 (2):121 - 132 (2002)
Abstract
This paper revisits the issue of gender stereotypes in sales professions given new views of what makes for effective sales performance and sales management. Women's continued disadvantaged position in the sales profession is documented, and the role of gender role stereotypes in sustaining this situation in the profession is examined. The paper then turns to the newly emerging, ostensibly "pro-female", view of sales. This emphasises the importance of building and sustaining relationships – qualities that women have traditionally been stereotyped as "good" at. Despite the positive emphasis accorded to women's skills in this new sales landscape, the ethical problems which arise from constructing this debate around the issue of gender are explored. In particular, the extent to which the view of women as "good at relationships" constitutes a stereotype is examined, and the value of this stereotype for redressing women's disadvantaged position from the perspectives of justice and utility is set out. In the final part of the paper we look at potential avenues for future theory and research which may help bring into focus a new view of gender role stereotypes in sales.
Keywords ethics  feminism  gender  management  relationship marketing  sales  sex discrimination  stereotypes  women
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