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Cross-cultural management: Female expatriates

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  1. The rise of the female expatriate manager
    1. Theories
    2. Research: Women are as effective as men
    3. Figures
  2. Barriers for women expatriation
    1. Cultural and environmental issues
    2. Selection and discrimination issues
    3. Social and family issues

This essay analyzes the evolution of female expatriates in Western multinational corporations in the recent years and confronts the issues of gender stereotyping, discrimination and family responsibility.

The small number of women on global assignments is disconcerting, given that the researches suggest female expatriates are quite successful (Adler, 1984b, 1986, 1994; Caligiuri and Tung, 1999; Napier and Taylor, 1995; Taylor and Napier, 1996).
Despite a slight evolution, why are women expatriates under represented?

This paper summarizes the key findings of researches that analyzed expatriation of Western women managers from a career theory perspective. Diverse theories draw a theoretical framework to elucidate the relationship between gender, culture and career. The meanings Western women managers attribute to their career path and expatriate experience are explored by using interviews that were available on the internet.

[...] (Rueyling Tzeng, 2006) In some countries, women who work are still regarded with scepticism, even criticism. It is not easy for the woman to integrate in a workplace and the issues of authority and hierarchy in the workplace are raised. But some other countries, where traditions are more pragmatic, judge on the skills before stigmatizing on the sex of the co-worker. Nevertheless, certain industries are less inclined to accept a feminine presence whereas others consider it positively, as a normal evolution of the company. [...]

[...] Moreover, Caligiuri and Tung (1999) compared male and female expatriates on three criteria of success: retention, adjustment and supervisor-rated performance. Their results also suggest that men and women do not differ on their desire to terminate their global assignments. (Journal of Human Resource Management 13:5 August 2002 771-772) However, a survey (Babita Mathur, October 2001) points out that international jobs are assigned to those individuals who are exceptionally qualified, irrespective of one's gender or race; therefore, being a female should not restrict them. [...]

[...] (Sully Taylor, Nancy Knox Napier and Wolfgang Mayrhofer, August 2002) Figures When Nancy Adler carried out her path-breaking work on female expatriates two decades ago (Adler 1984, 1987), there was a dearth of female expatriates to study. Today, the situation is different and lot of changes have occurred in the research landscape and in the views on female expatriates and women global leaders. In the 1980s, female expatriates represented 2-3%. Employers were reluctant to consider them for expatriate assignments. It was believed that women were not interested in working abroad, or it was perceived as a major risk to send them out there. [...]

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