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The relationship between gender and aspirations to senior management

Barrie Litzky (Pennsylvania State University – Great Valley, Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jeffrey Greenhaus (Management Department, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 30 October 2007




The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship of gender, work factors, and non‐work factors with aspirations to positions in senior management. A process model of senior management aspirations was developed and tested.


Data were collected via an online survey that resulted in a sample of 368 working professionals. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to analyze results.


Women were less likely than men to desire promotion into a senior management position. Moreover, women's lower desired aspirations for promotion to senior management were due in part to the smaller degree of congruence that women perceive between personal characteristics and senior management positions and in part to the less favorable prospects for career advancement that women perceive relative to men.

Research limitations/implications

The cross‐sectional, correlational research design does not permit strong inferences regarding the causal direction of observed relationships. In addition, the specific nature of the sample (working professionals enrolled in graduate study at one university in the USA) may limit the generalizability of the results.

Practical implications

Because women's career aspirations are affected by their perceived congruence with senior management positions and by their perceived opportunity to reach senior management, organizations should assure that senior management roles are not predominantly associated with masculine characteristics and should evaluate their promotion systems to eliminate artificial barriers to women's advancement into senior management.


This research distinguishes between desired and enacted aspirations as well as provides insights into some factors that explain why women hold weaker desired aspirations for senior management positions than men.



Litzky, B. and Greenhaus, J. (2007), "The relationship between gender and aspirations to senior management", Career Development International, Vol. 12 No. 7, pp. 637-659.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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