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Navigating the labyrinth: The path to progression for senior female managers working in a foreign country
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Economics.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Economics.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

Many articles have been written about women and what kind of barriers they face – whether it being a glass ceiling or a labyrinth - as they are progressing in their careers; gender stereotyping, double-binds, lack of role models, “old boys club”, different leadership styles, and so forth. And many others have talked about how to navigate or mitigate any obstacles that might face women due to their gender. Purpose of Research: This report aims to give insight into another aspect of this topic, namely through the lens of a cultural standpoint: do women that live and work abroad face yet another obstacle by being foreigners in addition to the gender specific ones that previously have been thoroughly identified in academic research. Research Question: How do successful female managers overcome attitudinal and cultural barriers in a foreign country? What strategies have they used? Method: The main research data was collected through in-depth, semi-structured, qualitative Skype interviews with women who have chosen to work and live abroad on a local level (i.e. not expats on time limited assignments). The collected empirical data was subsequently analysed using a matrix containing key words obtained from an in-depth, two-level academic literature search. The key words supported the discussion of the empirical findings and the analysis where the barriers were identified together with the subsequent strategies these women have used in order to progress their careers. Conclusions: As the study shows, a majority of the interviewed women have experienced positive response due to them being from a foreign culture, allowing them additional lee-way in making decisions that is considered to be non-stereotypical or norm “because-she-is-not-from-around-here” or using – very consciously – the excuse “this-is-the-way-we-do-it-in-my-home-country” to overcome attitudinal [gender] barriers. Most interviewed women also acknowledge that being a woman – in a male dominated environment such as a higher management position – differentiates them from the “crowd”, and it can be utilized as an advantage – providing that you want to stand in the spotlight. A common thread among the interviewed women was that women themselves are their own worst enemies – they often create their own internal barriers that prevent them from advancing their careers. However, the higher the women climb on the corporate ladder, the less advantage they have from being a foreigner and a woman, and the more they have to conform to the “norm” that in many places still is an “old boys club”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 57 p.
Keyword [en]
gender barriers, stereotyping, leadership, female managers, foreign culture
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Business Administration Other Mechanical Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-2809Local ID: diva2:830104
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2015-04-22 Created: 2014-10-20 Last updated: 2015-06-30Bibliographically approved

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Department of Industrial Economics
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specifiedBusiness AdministrationOther Mechanical Engineering

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