The purpose of this paper is to report on female expatriates' views on the potential importance of a formalised “women's network” launched by management as a diversity intervention to aid women's career development in an oil, gas and minerals extractive industries firm.
The approach takes the form of a triangulated research comprising analysis of company policy, interviews with Human Resources staff, a census survey of women expatriates, followed by in‐depth, semi‐structured female expatriate interviews.
Women value networking to prepare for expatriation and in working and living abroad. Informal networks are also used by more experienced women expatriates to learn of potential vacancies and gain career development on expatriation and repatriation. A formalised women's network is envisaged as being helpful to supplement these links. In a male‐dominated environment, the value of a network for women is appreciated, although concerns are raised that this might further reinforce gender divisions.
Research was limited to a single case study where the intervention had only recently been launched. Further research is needed to evaluate the impact of similar, more established career interventions. Comparative studies are also needed, both within the oil, gas and minerals sector and in other industries.
Employers developing formal networking interventions could benefit from understanding the views of potential users, particularly in respect of the potential limitations of such networks in promoting career development and through the adoption of a gendered approach.
There are relatively few data available on formalised employer actions to set up and run networks specifically for women as career development interventions. This case study provides an insight into how these might be received by – and their potential impact on – female expatriates.
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