Despite the need for “global” managers and the fact that woman want these jobs, HR executives and management are not sending them on international assignments.
Results of a survey released by Catalyst, a research and advisory organization that promotes the interests of women in business, found that misconceptions about women’s abilities to handle international assignments and about their willingness to accept these positions are barriers to their participation in global business.
A thousand women and men expatriates, their families and human resources executives were surveyed. Ironically, the misconceptions reported were also held by female managers and HR.
Only 13 per cent of American managers sent overseas are women, despite the fact that these female managers account for almost half of all managers and professionals and the fact that HR executives who took part in the survey report a shortage of global managers.
The reason for the huge discrepancy the survey found is that HR executives and management believe women aren’t as “internationally mobile” as their male counterparts, that they encounter more work-life conflict when taking international assignments and that they aren’t as successful with international clients because these clients are more comfortable doing business with men.
But these stereotypes aren’t supported by the numbers or what female managers want, according to the survey. Those numbers indicate that women are willing and able to take on and succeed in these international assignments. According to the survey, 80 per cent of women working abroad have never turned down a relocation, compared to 71 per cent of men. The survey also found that women and men both experience difficulties balancing work-life. Seventy-seven per cent of women reported having been very effective in building business relationships with international clients despite the perceived sexism reported by survey respondents.
“The bottom line is that these stereotypes — one on top of the other — make it less likely that decision-makers are going to think of women managers when they build executive global teams,” said Catalyst’s president Sheila Wellington.
Recommendations for overcoming these barriers included implementing formal policies regarding international positions.