Article

Opt-in or opt-out: exploring how women construe their ambition at early career stages

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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to challenge existing models of career ambition, extending understanding of how women define and experience ambition at early career stages in a professional services organisation. Design/methodology/approach Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 women from a professional services organisation, who were aged 24-33 and had not yet reached managerial positions. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and template analysis was conducted. Findings The analysis revealed four main themes in the women’s experiences: subjective, dynamic ambition; frustrated lack of sight; self-efficacy enables ambition; and a need for resilience vs a need to adapt. The findings support that women do identify as ambitious, but they vary in the extent to which they view ambition as intrinsic and stable, or affected by external, contextual factors, such as identity-fit, barriers, support and work-life conflict. Research limitations/implications These results demonstrated insufficiency of current models of ambition and a new model was proposed. The model explains how women’s workplace experiences affect their ambition and therefore how organisations and individuals can better support women to maintain and fulfil their ambitions. Originality/value This study extends and contributes to the redefinition of women’s career ambition, proposing a model incorporating women’s affective responses to both internal (psychological) and external (organisational) factors. It provides further evidence against previous individual-level claims that women “opt-out” of their careers due to an inherent lack of ambition, focussing on the interplay of contextual-level explanations.

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... This causes them to be perceived as not having as much "on-the-job experience" (Ford and Rohini, 2011, p. 7) and dedication as men (Del Bene Agius, 2019, p. 59). Yet, women's ambitions to succeed in their career is likely to be affected by the workplace environment they work in (Harman and Sealy, 2017). Women are said to encounter an invisible barrier termed as "glass ceiling" (Ryan and Haslam, 2008, p. 530) that serves as an obstacle towards leadership positions. ...
... After all, as stated by Harman and Sealy (2017), the extent of the ambition of women to succeed in their careers is very much impacted by the workplace environment they work in. As indicated in the literature, it is also probably true that most women are more likely to lack the motivation to occupy high-ranking positions and this in order to be even better able to maintain work-life balance. ...
... Exceptions include the study by Ashby and Schoon (2010) which showed that ambition (assessed as the desire to get promoted and having a challenging job) predicted future earnings and social status for teenage boys as well as girls. Qualitative studies support the notion that women see themselves as ambitious, affected by workplace experiences (Harman & Sealy, 2017). However, Sools, Van Engen, and Baerveldt (2007) report a qualitative study among Dutch managers, which showed that women who are enacting their ambition face a paradoxical situation where expressing ambition is both organizationally desired and contradicting typical female gender role expectations. ...
... In both samples, ambition was not related to gender. This adds to the relatively sparse literature on this topic, where quantitative and qualitative studies found that ambition is an important construct for males and females (Ashby & Schoon, 2010;Harman & Sealy, 2017), but that gender can play a role on how ambition is expressed and evaluated by others (Benschop et al., 2013;Sools et al., Fig. 2. Interaction plot for the relation between ambition and affective organizational commitment, moderated by perceived organizational career opportunities, Study 2. PCO = Perceived organizational career opportunities, Low = minus 1 SD, High = plus 1 SD. ...
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... Moreover, this may make employee women decrease in their ambitions interest more than men do. However, other situational aspects of their family situation or the help women and men may have in their daily lives could hinder or promote their ambitions (Harman & Sealy, 2017). In fact, women in the EU have worse conditions than men. ...
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... Although research on women in leadership in western contexts (e.g. Ramaswami et al., 2010) indicates that talented women are provided access to mentors and role models early in their careers, we did not focus on women CEOs' early experiences in relation to the development of their self-identity as a leader (Harman and Sealy, 2017). For theory building in women in leadership, we suggest that researchers investigate the complex process of becoming women CEOs, including early experiences in their careers in tandem with family background, organizational climate, and culture. ...
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... This has been discussed as rebooting, rerouting and retreating (Herman, 2015). Re-entry in general has been studied as a woman's decision to engage in paid work (Harman & Sealy, 2017). Hence, women's decision to restart a career after a break has been studied as re-entry irrespective of shifts in career or field: e.g. ...
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Purpose This study aims to assess whether differences exist in the barriers reported by, and in the person‐ and situation‐centred factors related to the managerial advancement of, women with and without children. The study also seeks to examine whether having children influences women's advancement, by affecting person‐situation factors such as training and development or work hours. Design/methodology/approach A confidential, voluntary survey was mailed to 1,183 female staff who held from non‐manager to executive positions in the banking industry. The response rate was 65.23 per cent or 848 respondents, of whom 209 (24.6 per cent) had children and 639 (75.4 per cent) did not. Findings The survey results indicate that, although the links and barriers to the advancement of mothers and non‐mothers are similar, important differences exist. Specifically, internal networks are negatively related to the advancement of women with children, but unrelated to the advancement of women without children. In addition, having children weakens the relationship between work hours and managerial advancement. Research limitations/implications This is a cross‐sectional study that included women currently in the workforce. Future research needs to include women who have left their organisations and needs to examine causal effects. The interaction of marital status and children should also be examined in future research, because marital status may not be a barrier to advancement for women but being a single mother might be. Originality/value The results provide some support for the belief that mothers experience additional barriers to advancement when compared with women without children.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which the concept of career success has been subject to reification, and identify potential implications for individuals, organizations, and societies. Design/methodology/approach The current paper offers an in‐depth analysis of the different contextual forces contributing to the reification of careers (i.e. history, culture and ideology), and how these have impacted on the social reality of career and the definitions of career success held by different relevant actors. Findings In total, eight research propositions are identified that need to be addressed in future research in order to advance knowledge and understanding of career success in context. Social implications One manifest outcome of career reification is the establishment of collective norms prescribing what a “normal”, “successful” career is – and what is not. Consequently, all careers not conforming to these norms are devaluated, which is inappropriate given the present‐day climate of workplace diversity. Originality/value Career theory, in general, has been criticized for overemphasizing individual agency while neglecting contextual issues. Furthermore, more conceptual development is necessary in relation to the career success construct. The current paper aims to address both of these gaps by presenting in‐depth analyses of the historical, cultural, and ideological contexts impacting on the meaning of career and career success.
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This article presents a social cognitive framework for understanding three intricately linked aspects of career development: (a) the formation and elaboration of career-relevant interests, (b) selection of academic and career choice options, and (c) performance and persistence in educational and occupational pursuits. The framework, derived primarily from Bandura's (1986) general social cognitive theory, emphasizes the means by which individuals exercise personal agency in the career development process, as well as extra-personal factors that enhance or constrain agency. In particular, we focus on self-efficacy, expected outcome, and goal mechanisms and how they may interrelate with other person (e.g., gender), contextual (e.g., support system), and experiential/learning factors. Twelve sets of propositions are offered to organize existing findings and guide future research on the theory. We also present a meta-analysis of relevant findings and suggest specific directions for future empirical and theory-extension activity.
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Purpose - to investigate the relationships between organizational identification, job satisfaction and turnover intention. Design/methodology/approach - extends social identity theory to employee identification with their organization, discusses the effect of organizational identity on job satisfaction, suggests that strong identification with the organization enhances motivation and positively influences job satisfaction, and depicts a model that links organizational aims and identity, employee organizational identification, job satisfaction, and job and task characteristics, to turnover intention and actual turnover. Validates the model by questionnaire survey of 358 German bank employees, 107 employees of a second German bank, 211 call-centre employees and 459 hospital employees. Findings - confirms that strong organizational identification does positively influence job satisfaction, finds this relationship in all four samples, and reports that employees who had left their organizations registered higher turnover intentions, lower identification and lower job satisfaction than colleagues remaining with the organization. Originality/value - demonstrates that managers need to create a sense of belonging.
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This study examined the economic and social exchanges between employee and employer within a model in which perceived organizational support and affective and continuance commitment served as predictors and performance, altruism citizenship behavior, absence, and lateness served as outcomes. Two samples were used. 384 master of business administration students participated in Study 1, and Study 2 consisted of 181 aerospace employees and their managers, working for a single organization. Both studies supported the distinctiveness between economic and social exchanges. Study 2 showed the overall fit of the proposed model was adequate, though only social exchange, and not economic exchange, directly predicted the performance outcomes. These results suggest the importance of perceived exchanges between employee and employer.
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300 24-64 yr old male middle managers rated either women in general, men in general, or successful middle managers on 92 descriptive terms. Results confirm the hypothesis that successful middle managers are perceived to possess characteristics, attitudes, and temperaments more commonly ascribed to men in general than to women in general. There was a significant resemblance between the mean ratings of men and managers, whereas there was no resemblance between women and managers. Examination of mean rating differences among women, men, and managers on each of the items disclosed some requisite management characteristics which were not synonymous with the masculine sex-role stereotype. Implications of the demonstrated relationship for organizational behaviors are discussed. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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In 3 experimental studies, the authors tested the idea that penalties women incur for success in traditionally male areas arise from a perceived deficit in nurturing and socially sensitive communal attributes that is implied by their success. The authors therefore expected that providing information of communality would prevent these penalties. Results indicated that the negativity directed at successful female managers--in ratings of likability, interpersonal hostility, and boss desirability--was mitigated when there was indication that they were communal. This ameliorative effect occurred only when the information was clearly indicative of communal attributes (Study 1) and when it could be unambiguously attributed to the female manager (Study 2); furthermore, these penalties were averted when communality was conveyed by role information (motherhood status) or by behavior (Study 3). These findings support the idea that penalties for women's success in male domains result from the perceived violation of gender-stereotypic prescriptions.
Article
A role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders proposes that perceived incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles leads to 2 forms of prejudice: (a) perceiving women less favorably than men as potential occupants of leadership roles and (b) evaluating behavior that fulfills the prescriptions of a leader role less favorably when it is enacted by a woman. One consequence is that attitudes are less positive toward female than male leaders and potential leaders. Other consequences are that it is more difficult for women to become leaders and to achieve success in leadership roles. Evidence from varied research paradigms substantiates that these consequences occur, especially in situations that heighten perceptions of incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles.
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore what organizations can do to facilitate the retention and advancement of women professionals into top leadership positions. A social exchange framework is applied to examine ways organizations can signal support for and investment in the careers of women professionals, and ultimately the long-term work relationship. Design/methodology/approach – This paper employed a qualitative methodology; specifically, semi-structured interviews with 20 women executives, in primarily the US hospitality industry, were conducted. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and content analyzed. Findings – Organizations are likely to strengthen the retention of their female professionals if they signal support through purposeful, long-term career development that provides a sightline to the top, and ultimately creates more female role models in senior-level positions. Organizations can also signal support through offering autonomy over how work is completed, and designing infrastructures of support to sustain professionals during mid-career stages. Findings are used to present a work-exchange model of career development. Research limitations/implications – This research is an exploratory study that is limited in its scope and generalizability. Practical implications – The proposed work-exchange model can be used to comprehensively structures initiatives that would signal organizational support to – and long-term investment in – female professionals and enable them to develop their career paths within their organizations. Originality/value – Through offering a work-exchange model of career development, this paper identifies components of organizational support from a careers perspective, and highlights the factors that could potentially contribute to long-term growth and retention of women professionals.
Article
Purpose Women remain dramatically underrepresented in the engineering profession and far fewer women than men persist in the field. This study aims to identify individual and contextual factors that distinguish women who persist in engineering careers in the US. Design/methodology/approach Qualitative research was conducted based on semi‐structured interviews with 31 women engineers, ten of whom had left an engineering career and 21 persisting for on average 21 years. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded and analyzed. Findings Women who persisted in engineering careers articulated high levels of self efficacy, described themselves in terms of their identity as an engineer, and were motivated by the challenges and novelty of the profession. Women engineers' ability to adapt enabled them to persist and thrive despite working in a male‐dominated culture characterized by difficulties associated with the workplace, including discrimination. Women who opted out of engineering were less likely to recognize options in navigating the workplace and some felt as if they were pushed into engineering. Persistent engineers were less likely to be married and had fewer children. Research limitations/implications Although appropriate for an inductive study using a grounded theory approach the sample was small and the data was self reported. Practical implications A model is developed that integrates individual and contextual factors explaining a woman's persistence in an engineering career and has potential to explain persistence in other professions. To retain more women in engineering careers, organizations and managers should provide opportunities to develop identified skills within the professional domain and should provide opportunities for women engineers that provide continuous learning, on‐going challenges and novel work. Originality/value Although numerous studies have addressed the retention of women in academic engineering programs and several recent studies have described why women leave engineering careers, the novelty of this study is that it addresses why women stay.
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Purpose The purpose of this study is to test the concurrent criterion validity of a new measure, the Career Pathways Survey (CPS) by exploring how women's glass ceiling beliefs are related to five major indicators of subjective career success: career satisfaction, happiness, psychological wellbeing, physical health and work engagement (WE). Design/methodology/approach Data from a cross‐sectional study of 258 women working in Australian organizations were analyzed. The participants completed the CPS and measures of subjective career success. The CPS assesses four sets of beliefs about glass ceilings: denial, resilience, acceptance and resignation. Findings Regression analyses showed denial was positively associated with career satisfaction and WE; resignation was negatively related to happiness and both emotional and physical wellbeing; resilience had positive relationships with happiness and WE; acceptance was negatively related to WE. The findings provide support for the hypotheses and the concurrent validity of the CPS. Research limitations/implications Given the study uses a cross‐sectional design, causal directions found between variables are inferences. Further research with longitudinal and experimental studies is needed to provide support for these inferences. Practical implications Training programs to analyze glass ceiling beliefs after testing with the CPS may be a beneficial strategy to help women identify reasons for their career goals. Feedback from CPS testing might facilitate greater awareness of the causes of women's subjective success in organizations. Originality/value The paper is the first to shed light on the connections between these success variables and women's beliefs about glass ceilings.
Article
This paper examines the impact of women's proportional representation in the upper echelons of organizations on hierarchical and peer relationships among professional women at work. I propose that social identity is the principal mechanism through which the representation of women influences their relationships. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses of interview and questionnaire data are used to compare women's same-sex relationships in firms with relatively low and high proportions of senior women. Compared with women in firms with many senior women, women in firms with few senior women were less likely to experience common gender as a positive basis for identification with women, less likely to perceive senior women as role models with legitimate authority, more likely to perceive competition in relationships with women peers, and less likely to find support in these relationships. These results challenge person-centered views about the psychology of women's same-sex work relationships and suggest that social identity may link an organization's demographic composition with individuals' workplace experiences.
Article
Women have made substantial inroads into some traditionally masculine occupations (e.g., accounting, journalism) but not into others (e.g., military, surgery). Evidence suggests the latter group of occupations is characterized by hyper-masculine 'macho' stereotypes that are especially disadvantageous to women. Here, we explore whether such macho occupational stereotypes may be especially tenacious, not just because of their impact on women, but also because of their impact on men. We examined whether macho stereotypes associated with marine commandos and surgeons discourage men who feel that they are 'not man enough'. Study 1 demonstrates that male new recruits' (N = 218) perceived lack of fit with masculine commandos was associated with reduced occupational identification and motivation. Study 2 demonstrates that male surgical trainees' (N = 117) perceived lack of fit with masculine surgeons was associated with reduced identification and increased psychological exit a year later. Together, this suggests that macho occupational stereotypes may discourage the very men who may challenge them. © 2014 The British Psychological Society.
Article
The relationships between college student gender, perceived career barriers, and occupational aspirations were examined. Participants were 314 students located in the southeastern United States. Overall, college women reported higher levels of occupational aspirations than college men. While occupational aspirations were not correlated with perceived career barriers for women or men, women reported anticipating more barriers to their career advancement than their male peers. Perceived career barriers and the interaction between gender and perceived career barriers predicted occupational aspirations after controlling for gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and year in school. The relationship between occupational aspirations and the interaction between gender and perceived career barriers in college-age adults enhances our understanding of occupational aspirations.
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The utility of Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) for predicting college women's interests and goals for positions of elite leadership was examined with 156 undergraduate women at a public university. They completed measures of elite leadership self-efficacy expectations, outcome expectations, interests, and goals. Results supported SCCT as a theoretical framework for understanding internal factors that may contribute to women's elite leadership interests and goals. Self-efficacy and outcome expectations for elite leadership positions related positively to interests and goals for such positions, and self-efficacy and outcome expectations each contributed unique variance to the prediction of elite leadership interests. Outcome expectations partially mediated the relation between elite leadership self-efficacy and interests, interests partially mediated the relation between elite leadership outcome expectations and goals, and the combination of elite leadership interests and outcome expectations completely mediated the relation between self-efficacy for elite leadership positions and elite leadership goals.
Article
Women continue to be underrepresented in traditionally masculine occupations. We argue that this may be explained in part by women’s perceptions that they do not fit in with the dominant identities in these occupations, contributing to occupational disidentification and an inclination to "opt out." We tested this argument in two samples of trainee surgeons. Study 1 (N = 129 female trainees) showed that women perceived a lack of fit with the masculine surgeon prototype and that, as expected, this perception was associated with a reduction in occupational identification and an increased desire to opt out. Study 2 (N = 216 male and female trainees) showed that women’s perceived lack of fit with the surgeon prototype was greater than men’s, and that this accounted for women’s relative disidentification.
Article
Recently, there has been considerable media attention granted to "the opt-out revolution," a term coined to describe the alarming talent drain of highly trained women, largely working mothers, who choose not to aspire to the corporate executive suite. This article critically reviews explanations for this phenomenon, and posits an alternate explanation of the kaleidoscope career model that fits workers' concerns for authenticity, balance, and challenge, vis-à-vis the demands of their careers in this new millennium. In particular, the kaleidoscope model fits women's careers well as a means of understanding how women operate relationally to others in both work and non-work realms. Like a kaleidoscope that produces changing patterns when the tube is rotated and its glass chips fall into new arrangements, women shift the pattern of their careers by rotating different aspects in their lives to arrange their roles and relationships in new ways. The article concludes with guidelines on how women executives can increase their career success and how organizations can create an improved workplace that will attract and retain talented women given the anticipated labor shortages beginning in 2012. Recipient of a “Gold Citation of Excellence” from Elsevier in 2006, regarded as one of the top 50 articles published in all management journals in 2005.
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Editor's Note. Three years ago, I invited Robert (Bob) Gephart to write a "From the Editors" column designed to help authors improve their chances of success when submitting qualitative research to AMJ. Judging from the increasing number of quali- tative studies that have been accepted and pub- lished in AMJ since that time, I would like to think that his article, "Qualitative Research and the Academy of Management Journal," has had a pos- itive impact. Continuing in this tradition, I asked Roy Sud- daby—an excellent reviewer (and author) of quali- tative research—to tackle another "big issue" that the editorial team has noticed with respect to qual- itative submissions to AMJ: overly generic use of the term "grounded theory" and confusion regard- ing alternative epistemological approaches to qual- itative research. Like Bob before him, Roy has, I believe, produced an analysis that will greatly ben- efit those who are relatively new to qualitative re- search or who have not yet had much success in getting their qualitative research published. Hope- fully, Roy's analysis will help even more authors to succeed, thus allowing AMJ and other journals to continue to increase the quality of insights pro- vided by rich qualitative studies of individual, or- ganizational, and institutional phenomena. Sara L. Rynes
Article
Considerable theoretical work has been published to date concerning the relationship between demographic composition of organizations and the performance of those firms. Indeed, under the topics of organization demography, substantial thought has been given to how demographic composition influences organization performance. Unfortunately, little empirical research has been conducted. The present research reports the results of two organization-level studies that investigated the relationship between gender diversity of organizations and their performance and hypothesized a nonlinear association. Study 1 results demonstrated support for an inverted U-shaped relationship between gender composition and organization performance, as hypothesized, and these results were constructively replicated in Study 2, thus increasing confidence in the validity of the findings. The results of Study 2 suggest that some industries might not be able to take advantage of this gender composition–firm performance relationship. Implications of these results for theory and research are discussed.
Article
This article describes how people adapt to new roles by experimenting with provisional selves that serve as trials for possible but not yet fully elaborated professional identities. Qualitative data collected from professionals in transition to more senior roles reveal that adaptation involves three basic tasks: (1) observing role models to identify potential identities, (2) experimenting with provisional selves, and (3) evaluating experiments against internal standards and external feedback. Choices within tasks are guided by an evolving repertory that includes images about the kind of professional one might become and the styles, skills, attitudes, and routines available to the person for constructing those identities. A conceptual framework is proposed in which individual and situational factors influence adaptation behaviors indirectly by shaping the repertory of possibilities that guides self-construction.
Article
Purpose This collection seeks to examine the various challenges women face in advancing their careers. Design/methodology/approach In the mid‐1980s, the phrase “glass ceiling” was coined and has since become an established part of our vocabulary. The glass ceiling refers to an invisible but impermeable barrier that limits the career advancement of women. During the last two decades, women have made progress: there are now more women in senior‐level executive jobs, more women in “clout jobs”, more women CEOs, and more women on corporate boards of directors. But real progress has been slow with only modest increases shown at these levels. Findings The slow progress made by talented, educated, ambitious women is now having some negative effects on women's views of management and the professions as a career. However, artificially limiting the career possibilities of women is a luxury organizations can no longer afford. Organizations are facing an impending shortage of qualified leaders. The aging of the workforce, a smaller number of new workforce entrants, and the war for talent, makes it imperative that organizations utilize and develop the talents of all their employees. Originality/value This collection examines the various challenges women face in their careers. The contributors come from a number of different countries, indicating the widespread interest in this topic in all developed and developing countries.
Article
Purpose – The aim of this paper is to explore how an elite group of senior women in banking represent and describe their understanding and experience of the role of meritocracy, within the context of their own career. Design/methodology/approach – Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 33 senior female directors from six global investment banks. Template analysis was used in the qualitative analysis of the coding. Findings – The paper found that the women's adherence to the notion of meritocracy diminished over time, as merit appeared to be less defined by human capital (ability and experience) and more by social capital (seen as political behaviour). The paper also reveals how the concept is construed on two levels: first, on a symbolic level, demonstrating how the organization defines and rewards success; second, on a personal level, how it affects the individual's cognitions, emotions and self‐belief. Originality/value – This paper contributes to the small literature on the concept of meritocracy in the management field, with an emphasis on the experiences of successful female directors in global investment banks.
Article
Purpose A major barrier to women's progress in management worldwide continues to be the gender stereotyping of the managerial position. The purpose of the paper is to examine how this “think manager – think male” attitude has changed over the three decades since the author's initial research and to consider the implications of the outcomes for women's advancement in management today. Design/methodology/approach The paper reviews the author's research, first conducted in the 1970s and replicated in the USA and internationally, on gender stereotyping and requisite management characteristics. Findings The overview reveals the strength and inflexibility of the “think manager – think male” attitude held by males across time and national borders. Over the last three decades corporate males in the USA continue to see women as less qualified than men for managerial positions. Internationally, the view of women as less likely than men to possess requisite management characteristics is also a commonly held belief among male management students in the USA, the UK, Germany, China and Japan. Practical implications Women's continued progress depends on recognizing the intractable nature of these negative attitudes and continually seeking ways to ensure that these attitudes do not derail their success. The need to maintain and expand legal efforts is discussed. An argument is also made for challenging the “corporate convenient” way of working and restructuring managerial work to facilitate a work and family interface. Originality/value Based upon three decades of research, the paper highlights the importance of maintaining and increasing efforts to ensure that women advance to positions of power and influence in organizations worldwide.
Article
This paper revisits Kanter's (1977) seminal work Men and Women of the Corporation, rereading her account of numerical advantage and disadvantage through a poststructuralist lens which exposes hidden dimensions of gendered power. This lens is captured in the ‘(In)visibility Vortex’ (Lewis and Simpson, 2010) which highlights struggles and tensions around the norm through processes of preservation and concealment within the norm as well as dynamics of revealing, exposure and disappearance as features of the margins. The study draws on developments in feminist theorizing, specially around visibility, invisibility and power, to facilitate this rereading. In so doing, the author demonstrate that while Kanter retreated from explanations based on the gendering of organizations or from recognition of gendered power, these dynamics can be identified in her text. The authors suggest that rereading classic texts can surface dimensions of organizations that have contemporary significance and can inform future research.
Article
Increasing numbers of women are attracted to careers in the professional services. However, when their progress is considered to partner positions, it is found that they are not advancing to the levels anticipated. When the literature in relation to the partnership promotion process is explored, we find explanatory models are rare, and rarer yet is work that considers the impact of sex bias on the process. The article adds to the limited work available by presenting findings from a behavioural process perspective through an empirical study with male and female management consultants in a professional services firm which indicates that the promotion to partner process is indeed sex biased. Two areas of disadvantage for women are identified: the presence of a self-managed career advancement process necessitating a proactive approach to demonstrating individual contribution' and the need to fit a prevailing model of success within the firm which is a masculine model and is more problematic for women. The article calls for a differentiated treatment of the glass ceiling phenomenon, capable of capturing disadvantage accruing from societally based factors and sector-based factors. The implications of the findings for future research and professional service firms are discussed.
Article
The lack of senior female role models continues to be cited as a key barrier to women's career success. Yet there is little academic research into the gendered aspects of role modelling in organizations, or the utility of role models at a senior level. The paper starts with a review of papers examining the construction of role models in organizational settings. This leads to the inclusion of two related areas – organizational demographics as the contextual factor affecting the availability of role models and how they are perceived, and work identity formation as a possible key explanatory factor behind the link between the lack of senior female role models and the lack of career progression to top organizational levels. The literature looking at social theories of identity formation is then considered from a gender perspective. The key gaps identified are that while the behavioural value of role models has been well documented, a better understanding is needed of how gender and organizational demography influence the role modelling process. Importantly, the symbolic value and possibly other values of female role models in the identity construction of senior women require further in-depth investigation. Finally, this review calls for a more integrated approach to the study of role models and work identity formation, pulling together literatures on organizational demography, the cognitive construal of role models and their importance for successful work identity formation in senior women.
Article
The article explores the issue of whether women's under-representation in senior management positions can be explained in part by the messages they are given about the promotion process and the requirements of senior jobs. Through interviews with over 50 male and female junior and senior managers in a UK high street bank, issues relating to the required personality and behaviour characteristics seen to be associated with success and with the long hours culture emerged as important. In many cases men and women identified the same issues but the significance of them for their own decision-making and the way others interpreted their behaviour varied — particularly in relation to the perceived incompatibility between active parenting and senior roles. The findings provide an account of the context in which women make career choices which highlights the limitations of analyses which see women's absence as the result either of procedural discrimination or women's primary orientation towards home and family. The findings also highlight the problems of treating commitments towards gender equality as an isolated issue and stress the importance of understanding responses to policies and ways of achieving change within the broader context of an analysis of the organization's culture.
Article
A role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders proposes that perceived incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles leads to 2 forms of prejudice: (a) perceiving women less favorably than men as potential occupants of leadership roles and (b) evaluating behavior that fulfills the prescriptions of a leader role less favorably when it is enacted by a woman. One consequence is that attitudes are less positive toward female than male leaders and potential leaders. Other consequences are that it is more difficult for women to become leaders and to achieve success in leadership roles. Evidence from varied research paradigms substantiates that these consequences occur, especially in situations that heighten perceptions of incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles.
Article
Within the next 30 years there will be equal numbers of women and men in the medical workforce. Indications are that women are increasing their participation in specialties other than general practice, although at a slower rate than their participation in the workforce as a whole. To inform those involved in training and employment of medical women, this study investigated the influencing factors in career decision making for female medical graduates. A total of 305 women medical graduates from the University of Auckland responded to a mail survey (73% response rate) which examined influences on decision making, in both qualitative and quantitative ways, as part of a larger survey. Most women were satisfied with their careers. The principal component analysis of the influencing factors identified four distinct factors important in career choice - interest, flexibility, women friendliness and job security, although the first two of these were rated more highly than the others. Barriers to full participation by medical women in training and employment need to be systematically examined and removed. This is not only to allow women themselves to reach their full potential, but for workforce and socio-economic reasons. Initiatives that allow and value more flexible training and work practices, particularly through the years of child raising, are necessary for women and the health care workforce at large.
Article
For men, ambition is considered a necessary and desirable part of life. Most women, however, associate ambition with egotism, self-aggrandizement, or manipulation. Getting to the bottom of why this is so required study of what ambition consists of--for both sexes. In childhood, the research uncovered, girls are clear about their ambitions. Their goals are grand, and they make no apologies for them. In nearly all childhood ambitions, two distinct factors are in place: the mastery of a special skill, and recognition for it. And what's true in childhood is no less true in later life: We all want our efforts and accomplishments acknowledged. Yet there are dramatic differences in how women and men create, reconfigure, and realize (or abandon) their goals. Most women are demure when praised for their achievements. One could chalk up this behavior to women's innate modesty or see it as a passive way of highlighting their accomplishments. But the fear of recognition that many women express suggests otherwise. Research has shown that such behavior varies according to social context: Women more openly seek and compete for affirmation when they are with other women, but they behave differently when competing with men. The underlying problem has to do with cultural ideals of femininity. Women face the reality that to appear feminine, they must provide or relinquish scarce resources to others--and recognition is indeed a scarce resource. Although women have more opportunities than ever before, they still come under social scrutiny that makes hard choices--such as when and whether to start a family or advance in the workplace--even harder. There are no easy solutions, but there are ways women can hold fast to their dreams. They must band together, learn to blow their own horns, and structure their lives in a way that promotes recognition.
  • Eagly A.H.
Q: Why don't more women choose to get to the top? A: They choose not to
  • L Belkin
Belkin, L. (2003), "Q: Why don't more women choose to get to the top? A: They choose not to", New York Times Magazine, Vol.58, pp.42-47.
Women on boards: Davies review annual report
  • E M Davies
Davies, E.M. (2015), "Women on boards: Davies review annual report 2015". Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/women-on-boards-reports (accessed 06 August 2016).
Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders
  • A H Eagly
  • L L Carli
Eagly, A.H., & Carli, L.L. (2007). Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.