Even though there has been progress in workplace gender equality, women are still underrepresented in leadership roles all over the world. The difference among countries and even among industries in the same country suggests that, beyond the patriarchal monolithic culture, there are other factors that influence women’s professional careers. In different countries, women take part in the workforce at different levels and with different roles and expectations. A new survey of students and alumni from 28 international business schools that are members of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), of which the EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey is a founding member, reveals some of these factors.

A new survey of students and alumni from 28 business school from around the world that are members of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), of which EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey is a founding member, shows the factors that affects women’s careers in the global workforce.

Published on International Women’s Day, the survey analyzes the students and alumni’s attitudes and beliefs on gender-equality matters in the workplace, such as time availability, assertive personality, childcare responsibilities, and working remotely.

The “Women in the Global Force” survey, published on International Women’s Day, analyzes the attitudes and beliefs of the students and alumni from the best business schools all over the world. To understand what is still holding women back in their professional lives and why they are held back in some areas more than in others, the GNAM surveyed 3,370 students and 1,511 alumni from more than 100 countries. A series of experiments was included to overcome the “social desirability” bias of those surveyed (the possibility that they might want to seem more sensitive to the question of gender than they really are). Besides answering a set of questions on their demographic data and their business experience, participants were asked to choose between two hypothetical candidates to be promoted, where attributes such as gender, age, assertive or reserved personality, and time availability were mixed randomly. These were the main findings:

  • Time availability: Those surveyed are 36% more likely to recommend for promotion a candidate who is “available to work at any time, including evenings and weekends.” Given the disproportionate burden for family work that women bear in most societies, it is a negative factor for women.

  • Assertive personality: Participants think it is more likely for people with an assertive personality to be promoted than for those with a reserved personality, regardless of gender. However, in many cultures socialization patterns for women favor a reserved personality, which means that the traits that help them at work harm them in their social relations.
  • Childcare responsibilities: Participants expect women to take on slightly more responsibility for taking care of children (55%). They also think that senior management expects women to take on a greater percentage of childcare (65%).

  • Working remotely. While working remotely is discouraged during office hours, it is considered an asset for people to work remotely outside of office hours. More than creating flexibility, technology allows the workday to be extended.

As this survey shows, women are more often caught in a double whammy; societies give them a disproportionately large family role and rewards a reserved personality, whereas workplaces reward long hours on the job and assertiveness.

In the study conclusions, the Global Network for Advanced Management proposes that employers should take measures to make for stronger, more attractive workplaces, and suggests the following steps:

  1. Reward productivity, not hours worked in the office.

  2. Support personality differences, acknowledging the value of diversity, and reward non-assertive but effective approaches.

  3. Encourage fathers who may want to be more involved in childcare to counter the perception that childcare is primarily a woman’s responsibility.

  4. Use the ability to work remotely to allow for workplace flexibility rather than as a limitless extension of the office, considering the positive and negative effects of the ability to work remotely on employees.

Juan Pablo Murra, the dean of the Tecnológico de Monterrey Business School, has insisted that, “businesses that develop a culture that promotes women to leadership positions will be able to attract the best talent and to increase competitiveness by benefitting from an inclusive approach to diversity.”

“At EGADE Business School, we are proud to contribute as a leading business school in Latin America, training entrepreneurial, transformative leaders, and we continue to work for the progress of outstanding women students and graduates, as well as our renowned faculty of women professors and all the women collaborators in the EGADE Business School Community,” said the dean.

For International Women’s Day, EGADE Business School reaffirms its commitment to empowering women leaders, developing knowledge, personality, and competencies as tools to face complex challenges in an increasingly demanding business context.

The full survey can be reviewed here.

Keywords: GNAM, woman, leadership, gender, diversity, competitiveness, Business Education, professional careers

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