Virginia Schein: Women are still struggling in the workplace

From a speech by the Gettysburg professor of management to the British Psychological Society conference

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The advancement of women into positions of power and influence in organisations is essential if women are to achieve equality of opportunity worldwide. Global statistics compiled by the International Labour Organisation indicate progress is being made in many countries.

The advancement of women into positions of power and influence in organisations is essential if women are to achieve equality of opportunity worldwide. Global statistics compiled by the International Labour Organisation indicate progress is being made in many countries.

A study of women's managerial status in 41 countries found that in nearly half, women typically hold between 20 and 30 per cent of legislative, senior official, and managerial positions. These countries include Austria, Germany, Greece, Israel, Peru, and Singapore. In 16 of the 41 countries, women hold between 31 per cent and 39 per cent of such jobs. These countries include New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

In a few countries, such as the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka, women held less than 10 per cent of legislative, senior official, and managerial positions.

The advancement of women into positions of power and influence may hinge on resolving the issues surrounding the work and family interface. Work structures based on traditional gender-based division of labour impede women's progress. Work demands must be evaluated on the basis of their relationship to organisational effectiveness rather than their convenience to those locked within an outmoded view of the world of work.

Achieving equality of opportunity for women in management is an on-going process. Three decades of research on gender stereotyping and requisite management characteristics reveal males continue to see women as less likely than men to possess characteristics necessary for managerial success.

It is imperative that legal pressures are maintained and serious attention given to restructuring managerial work. Such efforts will enhance women's opportunities to progress to positions of power.

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