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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 3: Women's advancement in management: what is known and future areas to address

Phyllis Tharenou


3. Women’s advancement in management: what is known and future areas to address Phyllis Tharenou INTRODUCTION Literally hundreds of empirical studies have been published investigating why women do not advance in management as much as men, as shown in several reviews (Ragins and Sundstrom, 1989; Tharenou, 1997a, 1997b, 1999a, 1999b; Crampton and Mishra, 1999; Powell, 1999). Worldwide, women on average comprise 20 percent of managers, with the highest proportion being 45 percent in the US (ILO, 1997; Carli and Eagly, 2001; Wirth, 2001). The higher the managerial level, the lower the proportion of women. Women comprise fewer than 5 percent of senior executives (ILO, 1997; Wirth, 2001) apart from the 6 percent found in the US (Catalyst, 2000). Although there are some country differences, the representation of women in management is reasonably consistent across countries except for the US (ILO, 1997; Wirth, 2001). The aim of this chapter is to present what is now known about why women are underrepresented in management, what future questions require research, and what can be done in practice to increase the proportion of women in management. Table 3.1 provides a summary of the key findings to be presented from reviews of the research evidence. Table 3.1 What factors are related to women’s advancement in management? Summary of the strongest links Strongest links Factors Organizational Occupation type: high occupation skill levels, operational roles, occupations inhabited by men Starting at higher levels or on faster tracks through initial/early job placement 31 32 A status report: past,...

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