“Meritocracy vs. Gender. Neoliberal ideologies and Female Subjectivities in a group of Young Professional Women in Barcelona”

María Arteaga- Villamil


In the last decades, women in many Western societies have gone through substantial changes: They got full access to all educational levels but also, they were witnessed of many constitutional reforms that would ensure their right to work or earn an equal wage as their male peers.

Drawing from a qualitative study, I explore  some of the ambiguities regarding employment for a group of  young professional women in Barcelona (Spain). The main purpose of this research is to depict the difficulties that young women may encounter in their attempt to get access to top positions in the labor hierarchy considering not just the organizational aspects but also the informal dynamics associated with cultural representations of gender roles in management positions. A series of deep-interviews with young career women reveal the complexity of the paths that these women have chosen and the concessions they were forced to make, in order to continue with the organizational norms or bypass them. Finally this paper will challenge the contemporary assumptions of the celebratory discourse about “successful women” by illustrating the context of how (mis)conceptions of educational achievement are easily assimilated into individualizing neoliberal discourses of meritocracy and gender equality.



Professional Woman, Labor market,Gender Roles, Educational Achievement.

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