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Advancing the careers of women with children

Isabel Metz (Department of Management, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 May 2005




This study aims to assess whether differences exist in the barriers reported by, and in the person‐ and situation‐centred factors related to the managerial advancement of, women with and without children. The study also seeks to examine whether having children influences women's advancement, by affecting person‐situation factors such as training and development or work hours.


A confidential, voluntary survey was mailed to 1,183 female staff who held from non‐manager to executive positions in the banking industry. The response rate was 65.23 per cent or 848 respondents, of whom 209 (24.6 per cent) had children and 639 (75.4 per cent) did not.


The survey results indicate that, although the links and barriers to the advancement of mothers and non‐mothers are similar, important differences exist. Specifically, internal networks are negatively related to the advancement of women with children, but unrelated to the advancement of women without children. In addition, having children weakens the relationship between work hours and managerial advancement.

Research limitations/implications

This is a cross‐sectional study that included women currently in the workforce. Future research needs to include women who have left their organisations and needs to examine causal effects. The interaction of marital status and children should also be examined in future research, because marital status may not be a barrier to advancement for women but being a single mother might be.


The results provide some support for the belief that mothers experience additional barriers to advancement when compared with women without children.



Metz, I. (2005), "Advancing the careers of women with children", Career Development International, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 228-245.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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