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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 2: High-achieving women: progress and challenges

Ronald J. Burke


Ronald J. Burke1 INTRODUCTION Why should organizations be interested in developing and utilizing the talents of women? Schwartz (1992) summarizes reasons why supporting the career aspirations of talented and successful managerial women makes good business sense. These include obtaining the best people for leadership positions, giving the CEO experience in working with capable women, providing female role models for younger high-potential women, ensuring that companies’ opportunities for women will be noticed by both women graduates in recruiting and women customers, and guaranteeing that all ranks of management will be filled with strong executives. The recruitment, hiring and development of managerial women is increasingly seen as a bottom-line issue related to corporate success (Hays-Thomas, 2004). Organizations seem to be doing a good job at recruiting and hiring capable women, but they appear to have difficulty in developing and retaining managerial women and advancing them into the ranks of senior management. The glass ceiling that women encounter refers to a subtle and almost invisible but strong barrier that prevents women from moving up to senior management. It is also apparent that women experience bias the moment they enter organizations. Schwartz argues that it is the impact of these subtle, and not so subtle, experiences that limits women’s career opportunities. This leads to another and more contemporary question: why are there so few women in top management? This chapter considers the following issues: • What factors account for the gains that women have made in advancing their career? • What barriers have limited women’s career...

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