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Understanding the processes that facilitate and hinder efforts to advance women in organizations

Janet L. Kottke (California State University, San Bernardino, California, USA)
Mark D. Agars (California State University, San Bernardino, California, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 May 2005




Aims to look at the way women in Western industrialized countries have made significant career advancements but barriers remain which necessitate organizational intervention. A number of initiatives that have commonly been introduced to help women in their career development have produced only modest gains in women's advancement.


Argues that four basic underlying processes – social cognitions, justice, threat, and utility – must be considered and managed as part of the development, implementation, and evaluation of initiatives targeting women's career advancement, if such initiatives are to have their desired impact. These underlying processes and their implications are presented with recommendations for organizational leaders and human resource professionals.


The goal of women's advancement is both noble and vital to long‐term organizational success, and initiatives to further the cause are needed. These goals are not, however, without their obstacles. By understanding how social cognitions, perceptions of fairness, threat, and utility can individually and collectively impact the success or failure of programs to advance women, organizational leaders can develop and implement informed practices that are embraced by all members of the organization and which, consequently, further the advancement of all organizational members.


The article focuses on the key underlying processes that are believed to be critical for understanding the barriers to women's career advancement, but it is necessary to note that, as with any organizational initiative, there are other organizational factors that must be considered, such as top management support, and the history of the organization with regard to gender.



Kottke, J.L. and Agars, M.D. (2005), "Understanding the processes that facilitate and hinder efforts to advance women in organizations", Career Development International, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 190-202.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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