Purpose: The aim of this paper is to examine the influence of gender culture and gender subtext on the career trajectories of women. It examines the organization as an arena in which underlying cultural processes maintain gender distinctions and barriers, thereby limiting the efficacy of policies specifically designed to increase the number of women at senior levels. Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on the findings of a qualitative case study of the perceptions of women's career trajectories in an Australian financial services organization. by examining the gender subtexts of organizational documentation we analyse the impact of gender culture, specifically the gender structure of the organization, gender identities of women managers and gender symbolism in organizational texts. Findings: The findings highlight the way an organization's gender culture legitimate continuing gender distinctions and impose pressure on women to comply with masculine behavioral norms, while accepting gender distinctions and arrangements that reproduce inequalities. Research limitations/implications: The findings illustrate that despite the case study organization being awarded for "best practice" in gender equity, the masculine gender culture of the organization indicates that systemic change to support the advancement of women is still strongly needed. Given that this case study is used as an illustrative example, future research should be mindful of the uniqueness of this particular context. Originality/value: These findings provide insights into the way the goals of equity legislation, policies and programs can be undermined by the distinct gender culture of an organization.