WHAT CHALLENGES DO WOMEN still face in the workforce?
That was the question behind a recent study
conducted by the Global Network for Advanced
Management (GNAM), an international network
of business schools, which surveyed students and
alums at 28 member schools (read more about GNAM
in “Exponential Alliance” on page 18). The 4,881 respondents
collectively have workplace experience in more than 100 countries.
Among the findings:
- Time is Money. When deciding who should be promoted, respondents
show no preferences based on gender, but they are 36 percent
more likely to recommend promoting the candidate who can be “available
to work at any time, including nights and weekends.” Given that
women provide more of the care for family members in many parts of
the world, this requirement means they have fewer opportunities for
advancement at work.
- Workplaces favor assertive individuals. Respondents believe that
both men and women with assertive personalities are more likely to be
promoted than more reserved individuals—but there are great variations
across countries. For instance, in societies with male-dominated labor
markets, families might socialize daughters to improve their marriage
prospects by being congenial and docile rather than competitive and assertive.
But if employers prefer workers with assertive personalities, professional
women might be harmed at work by the very traits that smooth the
way for their social relationships.
- Women are still presumed to be the caregivers. Employees on
average expect women to be responsible for 55 percent of childcare.
However, they believe senior managers expect women to do even more—
65 percent of childcare. As a result, women face a tough dilemma: If
they spend more time at work, they might get promoted, but their
co-workers might view them with disfavor because they fail to conform
to expected behaviors.
- Working remotely extends the workday. Respondents report that
working remotely during regular business hours is viewed negatively,
while working remotely outside of those hours is seen positively. Thus,
technology may be extending the hours people are expected to work, rather
than simply giving them more flexibility.
The GNAM report concludes that employers can
create better workplace environments for women
by encouraging a healthy work-life balance for
all employees. It notes, “Such a culture could
prove an advantage in the competition for the
To read “Women in the Global Workforce,”