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Is there a silver bullet to career success for women?

Inge Woudstra (W2O Consulting & Training, UK)

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Article publication date: 4 January 2016




Organizations were originally designed for men. Women are different and organizations will need to adapt to maximize progress and performance of women as well as men. Line managers need to be aware of gender differences in their approach of a mixed-gender team.


In a review of literature, key gender differences that could play a role at work were identified. Five top sports coaches were interviewed to find how they had to adapt to improve performance of female teams. Practical application of their strategies in organizations was tested in four workshops and 15 interviews with women and managers.


Six key gender differences were identified. Top sports coaches confirmed that they had to adapt their style to a female team, and could relate those to some of the differences from literature. The workshops and interviews showed that teaching managers to adapt their style is a promising approach.

Research limitations/implications

The research was set up to find if there is merit in being aware of gender differences in organizations. There is, but as it is exploratory research, it is now important to find further evidence.


Gender diversity efforts tend to be focused on equality, flexible working, and upgrading women’s skills. This paper highlights that those initiatives are not enough, and organizations need to adapt to women’s needs to maximize performance and progress of women as well as men.



Woudstra, I. (2016), "Is there a silver bullet to career success for women?", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 3-5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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