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Supporting Women’s Career Advancement

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis

This book documents the progress that managerial and professional women have made in advancing their careers, and the challenges and opportunities that remain. In the context of increasing numbers of women entering the workplace and indeed pursuing professional and managerial careers, it examines why so few women occupy the top positions in corporations.
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Chapter 1: Advancing women’s careers: small wins but unfinished business

Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis


1. Advancing women’s careers: small wins but unfinished business Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis1 INTRODUCTION During the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women who have entered the workplace in both developed and developing countries (Davidson and Burke, 2004). One contributing factor is the increasing amount of education women have pursued, coupled with increasing numbers of women undertaking professional studies (business, law, engineering and so on). This has resulted in greater numbers of women pursuing professional and managerial careers. We have witnessed a revolution in women’s roles in society, particularly in the workplace, during this time. However, this revolution has not resulted in increases in women’s participation at the top levels of corporations. Few women are chief executive officers (CEOs) of large organizations and few women occupy seats on the boards of directors of private sector organizations. The existence of a ‘glass ceiling’ artificially limiting women’s advancement appears to be a worldwide phenomenon. An increasing amount of research and writing has focused on the glass ceiling, why it exists, why it has been so difficult to eliminate it and what companies and governments are undertaking to support women’s career advancement. Women are now earning an increasing number of university degrees with a majority of university graduates in some fields (for example, psychology) being women. There is a lot of needed talent that is being wasted and underutilized as a result of the barriers unnecessarily faced by qualified...

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