A female manager in a male-dominated environment: A case study of mentoring and networking in the Australian Football League

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Cooper, Kathryn Joy (2018) A female manager in a male-dominated environment: A case study of mentoring and networking in the Australian Football League. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


Few studies have examined the extent to which mentoring and networking supports have assisted women in developing their careers in male dominated sport organisations where men have traditionally held the reins of power. This current study explores the value of mentoring and networking from a woman‟s perspective in senior and middle management positions at the Australian Football League (AFL). Research has revealed many personal, career and social challenges faced by women employed in management positions, particularly where men dominate the organisations‟ operations (Coleman, 2011; Sturges, 1999; Cha, 2013; Bierema, 2005; Heilman, 2012; Linehan, Scullion & Walsh, 2001). Research for this current study comprised semi-structured interviews with 19 women in senior and middle management positions in the AFL. The data was used to determine the effectiveness and impact of mentoring and networking on career development of women managers in a sports organisation. Data was coded manually and using computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). The CAQDAS software program used as part of this research was NVivo. The manual and CAQDAS helped to identify key nodes and sub-nodes. Results revealed that when mentoring was well structured and ongoing, it enabled participants to not only appreciate the organisation‟s formal authority relations and communication structures, it also assisted in developing an awareness of its operating culture, informal networks and power relations. Results also revealed networking was unavoidable and came with a wide range of benefits. Findings from this current study expanded knowledge on social capital theory and have the potential to enhance existing, and shape new formal mentoring programs incorporated at the AFL.

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/36770
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords mentoring, networking, career development, women, sport organisations, female managers, Australian Football League, organisational culture
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