Lucky to reach the top?

Christina Lundsgaard Ottsen (School of Business and Social Science, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Gender in Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1754-2413

Publication date: 11 March 2019

Abstract

Purpose

As organizations aim to become increasingly diverse, it is important to understand how perspectives of potential future leaders vary across culture and gender. This study aims to advance the understanding of the persistent gender gap in management.

Design/methodology/approach

Samples from the gender-segregated Qatar and the co-ed Denmark present a unique opportunity to investigate the potential effects of gender. Here, 115 Middle Easterners and 121 Scandinavians rated perceived importance of job-related skills, networking upward and serendipity in leadership acquisition.

Findings

Effects of gender showed that compared to men, women across cultures expected that serendipity has less to do with leadership acquisition. Middle Eastern women also showed low expectations regarding networking with people in powerful positions. Nevertheless, both genders showed conviction of meritocracy by rating job-related skills as the most important factor in leadership acquisition. Cross-culturally, Scandinavians presumed job-related skills to be more important than Middle Easterners.

Research limitations/implications

Despite meritocracy beliefs, it appears that gender differences in perceived possibility of leadership acquisition contribute to the gender gap in management. Scandinavian women relied more on networking than Middle Eastern women, but still lacked faith in serendipitous opportunities compared to male peers. Perceived luck enhances achievement motivation. If men rely more on luck than women, then they are more confident in succeeding and more ambitious about pursuit of leadership. Women’s lack of faith in serendipity might affect their career ambitions negatively even in societies emphasizing equality.

Originality/value

This is the first study that directly focuses on gender differences in perception of opportunities for leadership acquisition through serendipity.

Keywords

Citation

Ottsen, C. (2019), "Lucky to reach the top? ", Gender in Management: An International Journal , Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-11-2017-0158

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.