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Women’s roles in women’s career advancement: what do women expect of each other?

Deborah A. O’Neil (Department of Management, College of Business, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)
Margaret E. Brooks (Department of Management, College of Business, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)
Margaret M. Hopkins (Department of Management, College of Business and Innovation, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 August 2018

Issue publication date: 2 August 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to better understand women’s working relationships and career support behaviors, by investigating expectations women have of other women regarding senior women’s roles in (and motivations for) helping junior women succeed, and junior women’s engagement in their own career advancement behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors surveyed self- and other-reports of senior women’s engagement in career assistance behaviors on behalf of junior women colleagues, and junior women’s engagement in their own career advancement behaviors. One sample of respondents indicated to what extent they believed senior women did engage in career assistance toward junior women, and to what extent they believed junior women did engage in career advancement. Another sample indicated to what extent they believed senior women should engage in career assistance, and to what extent they believed junior women should engage in their own career advancement.

Findings

Results suggest a disconnect between the expectations and perceptions junior and senior women have of each other. Junior women expect senior women to engage in career assistance behaviors to a greater degree than they believe senior women are engaging in such behaviors, and junior women think they are doing more to advance their careers than senior women are expecting them to do. The authors examine individual and organizational implications of these unmet expectations and perception mismatches.

Originality/value

Women-to-women working relationships are under-studied, and typically viewed in either/or terms – good or bad. The findings provide a more nuanced understanding of women’s perceptions and expectations and offer suggestions for how women can influence female career advancement.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank two anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Citation

O’Neil, D.A., Brooks, M.E. and Hopkins, M.M. (2018), "Women’s roles in women’s career advancement: what do women expect of each other?", Career Development International, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 327-344. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-10-2017-0196

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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