Journal of Management Education
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Women represent just less than 50% of undergraduate business graduates and 36% of MBA graduates. Despite their strong presence in management education programs, women are noticeably absent from business case studies—a key pedagogical tool for instruction within management education programs worldwide. While case studies inform students about business processes, decision making, strategy, and leadership and management challenges, they also promote unintentional learning about gender. We argue that case studies contain a “hidden curriculum” that presents and reinforces implicit assumptions and stereotypes about women’s fitness to lead. Using NVivo 11 software to analyze the content of written cases, we examine the presence, absence, and representation of female and male protagonists in a sample of business cases published by a large business school case publisher. The findings offer comparative insights into the proportion of cases featuring female protagonists, the representation of women and men in leadership roles, and the characterizations of the female and male protagonists. Women protagonists were absent in more than 80% of cases, and when present, were portrayed as less visionary, risk taking, agentic, certain, and more emotional, cautious, and quality and detail oriented than men.