Global Network for Advanced Management

Global Network Survey Illuminates Challenges for Women in the Global Workforce

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Global Network

The Global Network for Advanced Management has released results of a survey of nearly 5,000 students and alumni from its network of 29 top business schools worldwide. The report, “Women in the Global Workforce,” presents new insights into factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in business leadership worldwide.

The survey was an example of the networked inquiry made possible when business schools across 26 countries collaborate to better understand issues of importance to the economy and society.

The sophisticated survey design asked participants to answer a series of questions about their background and opinions and then presented them with a hypothetical candidate for promotion. The candidates varied along a number of variables, including gender, assertiveness, ability to work long hours, and productivity.

From this rich data set, including participants with work experience in 105 countries, the researchers distilled four key findings:

  1. Time is money. In making promotion decisions, respondents greatly favored candidates who were available to work around the clock. However, when shown productivity data for these candidates, respondents no longer put much weight on availability.
  2. Workplaces favor assertive women (and men). Respondents to this survey believe that both women and men with assertive personalities are more likely to be promoted than individuals with reserved personalities. However, the preference for assertive personalities varies significantly across countries.
  3. Who’s responsible for childcare? Across the board, respondents expected women to take on slightly more of the responsibility of childcare. Respondents also reported the belief that senior managers in their firms expected women to take on an even greater proportion of childcare.
  4. Working remotely extends the workday. Survey respondents report that working remotely during regular business hours is viewed negatively, while working remotely outside nine to five is a plus. Rather than create more flexibility, technology may be extending the hours people are expected to work.

The report recommends that companies and other employers focus on activities that can counterbalance some of the identified challenges for women in the workforce. Among other suggestions, the authors urge companies to measure productivity, as opposed to merely time in the office, and to take steps to counter the perception that childcare is primarily a woman’s responsibility. The result, they say, can be an improved culture for all employees.

The full report and the underlying data can be viewed at on the Global Network website.