Supporting Women's Career Advancement. Challenges and Opportunities*

Article excerpt

Burke, Ronald J. / Mattis, Mary C. (eds.): Supporting Women's Career Advancement. Challenges and Opportunities* ISBN 1 84376 633 7, Cheltenham, UK/Northhampton, MA., USA: Elgar Publishing, 384 pp., brit. £ 75.00

The fact that women still are underrepresented in management positions, although there are many highly qualified and ambitious women in the workforce has been discussed extensively. Since there does not appear to be a lack of formal qualifications, more subtle mechanisms of exclusion are likely to be prevalent. Research concerning these mechanisms as well as strategies how to support women's professional careers has been growing for years. For this reason, a summary volume, such as the book edited by Burke and Mattis that is directed toward both academics and practitioners and provides a comprehensive survey of the state of the art research in this field is very welcome.

The Volume includes 15 contributions, divided into five parts. The first three are mainly research-oriented, while the latter two focus on practice. Following the introduction, chapters 2 (Burke) and 3 (Tharenou) provide reviews of research findings on the under representation of women in top management positions. They show the numerous barriers highly qualified women face on their way to top management positions and also discuss organizational, social and individual factors related to women's career advancement - or lack of it. Additionally, interesting questions for further research as well as practical implications are proposed.

Chapter 4 (Altman, Simpson, Baruch and Burke) deals with the 'glass ceiling,' the complex mixture of mechanisms obstructing women's advancement to top management positions. The authors start with the observation that there are no substantial gender differences in the career advancement of younger professionals whereas they do exist for older ones, then go on to outline scenarios for demolishing or at least raising the 'glass ceiling'.

Chapter 5 (Vinkenburg and van Engen) is devoted to stereotyping and subjective theories about gender and leadership behaviour. Research findings show that leadership still is equated with masculinity and or at least androgyny. Interestingly, female leaders themselves have preconceived ideas of leadership that is more masculine or androgynous than their self-image.

In chapter 6 (Line Germain and Scandura), one of the most popular careersupporting strategies - mentoring - is described. The authors stress the importance of self-determination for protégés, who should play an important part in choosing their mentors. …