Factors influencing the participation of female executives in international assignments

Linehan, M. and Scullion, H. (2001) Factors influencing the participation of female executives in international assignments. Comportamento Organizacional e Gestao, 7. ISSN 0772-9662

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Several observers have noted the importance of international assignments for women as a factor in breaking the glass ceiling (Harris 1995; Adler 1997). The myth that women do not desire expatriate assignments has been dispelled by several researchers (Adler 1994; Stroh, Varma, and Valy-Durbin 2000). Yet there continues to be fewer women sent on international assignments than men. As revealed in the current study, part of this phenomenon may be explained by perceptions of women as managers still held by men in the U.S. Moreover, strong negative perceptions of women as managers, held by men and women in other countries, Chile in the case of the current study, demonstrate an additional obstacle for U.S. women managers going on expatriate assignments. The glass ceiling phenomenon may exist to a greater extent outside of the U.S. The call by Schein et al. (1996) to do research in South American countries was addressed in the current study which supports the commonly held view that "think manager - think male is a global phenomenon, especially among males" (p. 39), and from the current study it should be added that, especially outside of the U.S., among both males and females. Given these results, it is important to consider how expatriate assignments can be made more effective for women managers going abroad.