Friday, April 10, 2015

“Glass walls”: Women concentrated in specific management functions



One of the reasons why it can be more difficult for women to be selected for top management jobs is that their management experience is not sufficiently diverse. They have not been exposed to all types of company operations during their careers and thus have not gained sufficient experience in general management across several functional areas. The ILO company survey in the developing regions confirms trends already identified in a range of studies and surveys. The concentration of women in certain types of management reflects the “glass walls” phenomenon, which is segregation by gender within management occupations. 

While women are gaining access to more and higher levels of management, there is a tendency for them to be clustered in particular managerial functions. Figure 2 below illustrates that a greater proportion of companies participating in the survey have 100 per cent women compared to 100 per cent men in managerial functions such as human resources, public relations and communications management, and finance and administration. Fewer companies have 100 per cent women or more than 50 per cent women in managerial functions such as operations and sales managers, research and product managers and general managers.
 In addition, more companies have more than 50 per cent women in the first three types of management compared to the latter. Attaining experience in the latter is vital for ascending the central pathways of the organizational pyramid (see Figure 1 above) to reach top positions. As a consequence women may “go up the ladder” only to a certain point as the managerial functions they exercise are located on the sides of the pyramid. Companies responding to the ILO company survey also identified some other types of managers and the proportion who were women. Among the sample responses, ICT managers appeared to be men more often than not, while there were more women as quality control and procurement managers


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