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Gender influences on career success outcomes

Barbara Orser (School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Joanne Leck (School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 20 July 2010




Models of career success outcomes have specified that gender is one covariate, among many. Theoretical reasons why gender is better specified as a moderating variable are advanced. The purpose of this paper is to examine empirically how gender moderates that influence of personal and structural factors on objective (total compensation, and ascendency), and subjective (perceived success) career outcomes.


The research draws on a sample of 521 chief executive officers (CEOs), executives and managers. Multivariable (step‐wise) linear regression was employed to examine simultaneously the influence of the predictor variables on career success outcomes.


Even after controlling for explanatory influences on career success, gender influences remained. Gender moderated the predictive influence of international experience on compensation, ascendancy, and perceived success. The findings also illustrate that career development models should be situated by (private versus public) sector and specify systemic gender differences in career success outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The survey response rate was problematic. A response rate of 9 percent was lower than ideal. In this context, scholars note low‐response rates in mail surveys targeted at senior executives and CEOs. The attending limitation of self‐report responses and retrospective perceptions are also acknowledged.

Practical implications

The findings alert women about the importance of career preparation (role investment), such as graduate education and international experience, key credentials to executive‐level advancement. Women executives are also encouraged to seek clarification about compensation relative to their male counterparts.


Most studies about career success are mute with respect to how gender moderates the strength of personal and structural predictors on career outcomes. Given evidence about gender differences in how managers perceive success, examination about the influence of gender on subjective career outcomes is also warranted. Finally, the preponderance of studies about women's career experiences are based on American samples and/or sectors such as high‐tech. Public and service‐based industries, sectors historically populated with women, are often excluded from research. This work addresses the need for generalization by drawing on a across sector of Canadian managers, executives, and CEOs.



Orser, B. and Leck, J. (2010), "Gender influences on career success outcomes", Gender in Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 386-407.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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