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Conference Papers Year : 2017

The results of pro-active feminization in French banks : a comparative approach


French banks have long been feminized : however, women are only starting to access key managerial positions. For this proposition, we wish to inquire into two particular French institutions : BNP Paribas and Société Générale. BNP’s directors have sustained a very pro-active approach to feminization. Thus, on the whole, women have largely gotten access to the highest ranks of the firm and are slowly getting inside the boardroom. But this movement has not been uniform nor irresistible : there are several remaining pockets of male domination, such as R&D and main commercial positions. What’s more, one could argue that feminization has served as a sort of corporate camouflage for other enduring or worsening inequalities inside the firm. We wish to study BNP and contrast this example with Société Générale, which is not as active in this regard, in order to point out the effects of a pro-active policy on feminization. The feminization movement has involved many different actors who each have shaped it according to their own agendas and issues. Amongst those actors, one can count global directions, women groups, human resources and the State. The diverging conceptions of feminization which have been carried by this multiplicity of actors have resulted in a highly differentiated feminization of the bank. One could say women are faced with a “coffered ceiling” (Godechot et al. 2009). We wish to study those differential approaches to feminization and their effects since the end of the 2000’s. Indeed many institutional factors have pushed banks to give women better chances. But those policies have had limited effects in each bank and have followed a limited series of paths : better access to formation, better rates of promotion, the constitution of women groups, the proliferation of an anti-discrimination and pro-equality discourse inside the firm. By studying the figures of feminization, its discourse and the role of multiple actors, we wish to shed some light on this much publicized and crucial issue from a public policy and actor theory framework.


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hal-02874202 , version 1 (18-06-2020)



Valentin Brunel, Marnix Dressen. The results of pro-active feminization in French banks : a comparative approach. International Sociological Association - RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, May 2017, Lisbonne, Portugal. ⟨hal-02874202⟩
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