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Latin American female business executives: an interesting surprise

María Consuelo Cárdenas (School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia)
Alice Eagly (Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA)
Elvira Salgado (Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia)
Walkyria Goode (Graduate School of Management, ESPAE-ESPOL, Guayaquil, Ecuador)
Lidia Inés Heller (Department of Business, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Kety Jauregui (School of Business, ESAN University, Lima, Peru)
Nathalia Galarza Quirós (School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia)
Naisa Gormaz (Universidad Católica de Chile/ Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile)
Simone Bunse (Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA)
María José Godoy (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala)
Tania Esmeralda Rocha Sánchez (Facultad de Psicología, UNAM, Ciudad de México, México)
Margoth Navarro (Instituto Nacional de la Mujer, Tegucigalpa, Honduras)
Fernanda Sosa (FLACSO, Montevideo, Uruguay)
Yenny Aguilera (Asociación Latinoamericana para la Formación y la Enseñanza de la Psicología (ALFEPSI), Asunción, Paraguay)
Marion Schulmeyer (Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia)
Betania Tanure (PUC Minas, Belo Horizonte , Brasil)
Mónica Naranjo (Master in Finance Student, Tulane University, IESA and Universidad de los Andes, Ciudad de Panama, Panama)
Beatriz Helena Soto (formerly School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Panama, Panama)
Silvana Darre (FLACSO, Montevideo, Uruguay)
Rubén Carlos Tunqui (Servicio Departamental de Gestión Social, Potosí, Bolivia)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 13 January 2014




Because women ' s status in Latin American countries appears comparable to their status in organizations of more economically advanced nations, this paper probes the mystery of how and why these women fare relatively well in their careers, given that socioeconomic and cultural factors could limit their possibilities of achieving higher management positions. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Exploratory study of 162 Latin American women who demonstrated exceptional success by attaining first and second level positions in private organizations. They responded to a semi-structured interview of 49 closed-ended questions about career challenges and barriers, leadership style, ambition, personal goals and work-life balance, plus two open-ended questions about men and women ' s leadership differences and how they understand their success.


Interviewees disagreed on issues of discrimination, recognized few serious professional career barriers and regarded work-life balance as their main challenge. They understood their success in terms of individual factors such as personality characteristics, performance and results, and their own leadership traits. Most admitted that machismo limits women ' s access to upper level positions. They recognized their ambition to attain power positions mainly for personal satisfaction, and their main goal was personal development and fulfilment.

Research limitations/implications

Given the sample size per country, future research could include a more representative and large sample or concentrate on one country per region to establish relationships between women ' s personal characteristics and organizations ' sector, or challenges faced and leadership style. Also family-owned companies as well as women entrepreneurs could contribute knowledge about women ' s leadership in these countries. Studying only national companies, a more neatly description of local culture and gender awareness in its organizational practices that hinder or promote women ' s leadership and participation in decision-making positions may be obtained. Transcultural studies that compare women ' s rise and upper management performance in countries where support from domestic help and extended family as well as cultural values are very different, could permit to understand more fully what it takes to reach top management positions and the weight that these particular cultural conditions have.


This study is unique in shedding light on a multinational sample of Latin American female executives and their perceptions of their success, leadership style and barriers and challenges faced.



Cárdenas, M.C., Eagly, A., Salgado, E., Goode, W., Heller, L.I., Jauregui, K., Galarza Quirós, N., Gormaz, N., Bunse, S., Godoy, M.J., Rocha Sánchez, T.E., Navarro, M., Sosa, F., Aguilera, Y., Schulmeyer, M., Tanure, B., Naranjo, M., Soto, B.H., Darre, S. and Tunqui, R.C. (2014), "Latin American female business executives: an interesting surprise", Gender in Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 2-24.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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