This paper aims to examine the issue of promoting women managers at an enterprise level in China by tackling key research questions related to the level of participation of women among total managerial positions and the opportunities of promoting women into managerial position.
By conducting a questionnaire survey and analysing the results from 296 women managers who were taking MBA and EMBA programmes in China, the authors were able to obtain the sufficient sample size, as well as sufficient responses, given that these people who were taking MBA and EMBA studies required three to eight years of managerial work experience. Key questions are related to the level of participation of women among total managerial positions, and the criteria for women to be promoted into managerial positions. In addition, other issues such as the satisfaction of women managers towards promotion opportunities and career development and enterprise policies on women leadership are also important and need to be explored in this article. It is also useful to ask their views on the difference between men and women regarding individual efforts leading to promotion opportunities, and to check for any influence of pregnancy and other factors on women managers’ leadership roles.
The overall results achieved by analysing the results from 296 women managers who were taking MBA and EMBA programmes in China indicate that there has been positive improvement, with the majority of women managers being satisfied with the proportion of women as managers, and with their own promotion situations, in their current organizations.
The research project has some limitations. This paper focuses on key issues related to the promotion of women into management positions at an enterprise level through the interview and survey among those women managers who were taking MBA and EMBA programs. This research project did not include many issues that can be found among other women managers or issues at the society level, such as traditional culture and the influence of religion, or overall legislation regarding equal opportunity for women in the society, as the focus was on the experiences and expectations of individual women managers in the workplace.
Most people believed that social relationship, guanxi, is the most important factor in the promotion of women, but the findings in this paper show that the capabilities and achievements of women are more important than just having a good guanxi. This also inspires women to believe in themselves and believe that they can achieve their goals through their own effort. Other empirical implications, such as the negative influence of pregnancy on the current managerial positions and promotion opportunities for women, are evident, and the lack of policy initiative to address this issue causes a great degree of uncertainty among women managers.
The majority of the surveyed targeted women managers felt confident about their capability to be leaders, while most of them felt satisfied regarding the proportion of women managers in their organization, as well as their own current promotion situation. However, the “glass ceiling” phenomenon still exists, given most highly educated women managers believed it would be difficult to be promoted even further.
Through this article, the readers are firstly informed about the perceptions held by women managers in China nowadays regarding their promotion opportunities and career satisfaction. Secondly, the paper provides some understanding in the context of China’s reform from traditional planning system to the current market-oriented one, the associated change of business culture and the transformation of human resource management system and gender equality at the firm level.
Xie, Y. and Zhu, Y. (2016), "Holding up half of the sky: Women managers’ view on promotion opportunities at enterprise level in China", Journal of Chinese Human Resource Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 45-60. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHRM-11-2015-0015Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited