Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Preventing the Leaky Pipeline: Teaching Future Female Leaders to Manage Their Careers and Promote Gender Equality in Organizations

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Preventing the Leaky Pipeline: Teaching Future Female Leaders to Manage Their Careers and Promote Gender Equality in Organizations

Article excerpt

Introduction

Women's access to higher education, especially tertiary education, is increasing. The world Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report states that the educational attainment of females increased from 92% of males' educational level in 2006 to 95% in 2015 (World Economic Forum, 2015). Women also make up the greater part of enrolled university students in many countries. Male and female students' work expectations show many similarities (Walk, Schinnenburg, & Handy, 2013). The first impression of these data is positive, and there is undeniable global progress, but inequalities still exist. These inequalities are apparent in the low number of countries (only four of 145) in which women hold the majority of leadership positions (World Economic Forum, 2015). Regardless of the cultural context and standards of living, scholars state that women's skills are not fully utilized (Hernandez Bark, Escartin, Schuh, & van Dick, 2016).

Women are a part of the global talent pool that is still underrepresented in higher labor market segments, leading to challenges in three tiers of analysis: (1) the macro or economic, (2) the intermediate or organizational, (3) the micro or individual tier. (1) Several studies (Aguirre, Hoteit, & Sabbagh, 2012; Devillard, Sancier-Sultan, Zelicourt, & Kossoff, 2016) suggest that, on the macro or country tier, measures such as the investment in female educations lead to positive effects, such as increases in the GDP. Countries have found that better education is not necessarily followed by outputs, such as higher labor market participation of valuable female talent. Instead, many countries face the challenge of being unable to provide as many well-qualified employees to fill key positions as companies demand (Khilji, Tarique, & Schuler, 2015). (2) On the intermediate tier, companies experience the "leaky pipeline" of females leaving the work force throughout their career paths, which leads to an unequal distribution of females in leadership positions in comparison to their qualification level. However, research shows the performance benefits of companies with women in senior management positions (Scullion & Collings, 2011). (3) On the individual tier, entering, staying in or withdrawing from the labor market incisively impacts women's equality, individual status and risk of poverty. Work protects women's livelihood and may, at best, provide positive social contacts, experience of acknowledgement, development of a professional identity, contributions to society (Hartung & Taber, 2008) and economic independence with the freedom to make choices regarding one's life. To understand females' work-domain decisions and improve equality, we argue that the context in which these decisions are made must be analyzed. Along with the three tiers described above, three different contextual factors must be considered: "(1) culture and/or society and labor markets, (2) the perception of company-specific rules and career opportunities from the employee perspective, and (3) the individual's role, identity and background." (Schinnenburg & Bohmer, 2018, n.p.; Powell & Greenhaus, 2012).

Economies and organizations actively engage in talent management nowadays (Khilji et al., 2015). However, women's career decisions and possibilities to increase their chance of financial and personal independence still lack scholarly attention. Therefore, this paper focuses on the individual tier in two contextually diverse settings: India as an emerging economy and under researched context in career literature (Mishra & Budhwar, 2012), and Germany as a Western industrialized country. Especially in India, a female is likely to face lifelong dependency on her husband and his family, including oppression and subordination. Divorced women are at risk of poverty in both countries, especially when they exited the work force during their marriage. Moreover, only in 20% of German firms and in 11% of Indian firms' women participate in ownership (World Economic Forum, 2015). …

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