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The rocky climb: Women's advancement in management (in press)
The Oxford Handbook of Gender in Organizations (2012)
  • I. Metz, Melbourne Business School
  • C. Kulik

The literature on the barriers to women’s advancement is rich and spans several decades. As a result, we aimed in this chapter to illustrate rather than comprehensively examine ‘if and how’ some of the barriers to women’s advancement in management have changed. To this end, we focused on four types of persistent barriers to women’s advancement (decision-makers’ denial of gender discrimination, gender roles, stereotypes and perceptions, and organisational culture), one new version of an old barrier (covert discrimination) and on one new barrier (growing gender fatigue). We conclude that the more things changed (e.g., the world of work has become less gendered) the more they stayed the same (e.g., in general women’s representation at executive and board levels across countries remains low). Although no one factor explains this worldwide organisational phenomenon, societal norms clearly continue to exercise strong influence on behaviour in organisations. Time will tell if some of this social influence will diminish in importance as a result of renewed legislative and institutional pressures for organisations to address gender inequity. Part of this success will be determined by the approach each organisation adopts to change. We recommend that a thorough diagnosis of the organisation’s position in the gender equity continuum be the first step in designing an organisation-specific approach to increasing gender diversity in management. This customised approach recognises that organisations, and the countries in which they operate, are at different stages of awareness and readiness to take on the gender equity challenge.

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Citation Information
I. Metz and C. Kulik. "The rocky climb: Women's advancement in management (in press)" The Oxford Handbook of Gender in Organizations (2012)
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