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Swedish female expatriate managers: barriers and issues experienced prior and during international assignments
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The number of female managers being sent on international assignments is substantially lower than the number of males. Research indicates that females experience barriers in their careers that are not faced by their male colleagues, and overcoming “hidden” or less apparent barriers to managerial fairness is not always easy. There also exist myths in both academic literature and among practitioners regarding females as expatriates. Some of these myths are that women are not interested in taking on international assignments and that some host countries are unwilling to accept female expatriates. This study has been conducted in order to separate facts from myths and to shed light on the role of Swedish women in international management. The purpose of the study is specifically to gain a deeper understanding of Swedish female expatriate managers’ experiences of barriers and issues before and during international assignments. It investigates the topic from a female expatriate’s perspective. The study takes a qualitative approach and is based on case studies of five Swedish female expatriates. The findings about barriers prior to international assignments indicate that “the glass ceiling” exists and factors contributing to its existence can be the type of industry and women themselves. “The glass border” also appears to occur, especially in male dominated industries. Moreover, gender stereotypes can exist and affect female expatriates. Dual-career couples may also play as a barrier as men tend to have a higher salary and their careers are commonly prioritized which might hinder women from taking on international assignments. Findings further reveal that companies can be reluctant to send women on international assignment because of: country and its culture, a male-dominated business environment, high status of an assignment, children and women themselves doubting their own capabilities. During international assignments women can face prejudice depending on country, religion and the age of the female expatriate. On international assignments women are forced to conduct some lifestyle choices in order to make an international assignment function for example, to restrict their social and personal life. Mentorship also proves important during an international assignment. Moreover, on international assignments women might experience “tokenism” and become isolated, however, findings reveal that it does not affect the outcome of their assignments. Networks are important during international assignments and female expatriates have no issues in creating networks, nonetheless, it can be harder to create networks in some countries than others, it also appears to be easier for men than women to create networks as it comes more natural for them. Female expatriates generally do not experience any difficulties in adjusting to international environments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Social Behaviour Law, Management, Expatriates, Female expatriates, Women in, international management, Women and leadership, Barriers and, issues for female expatriates, Experiences for female, expatriates
Keyword [sv]
Samhälls-, beteendevetenskap, juridik
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-46514ISRN: LTU-DUPP--09/010--SELocal ID: 4249b506-a869-432d-9af9-c558e5846b8aOAI: diva2:1019829
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 15 credits
Educational program
Industrial Marketing, master's level
Validerat; 20101217 (root)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

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