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Why are women left at home: are they unwilling to go on international assignments?

By Linda K. Stroh, Arup Varma and Stacey J. Valy-Durbin

Abstract

Increasing numbers of women may be climbing the corporate ladder, but when it comes to sending managers on overseas assignments, women are staying home. Is it that women are not interested in international careers, that for some reason companies are reluctant to send women abroad, or that women in foreign countries experience prejudice that prevents them from being effective on their jobs? Our results, based on an extensive survey of female expatriates and their supervisors, indicate that the key may lie in the significantly different views the women and their supervisors hold on the women's interest in pursuing international assignments and in their expectations concerning the prejudice they are likely to encounter. In short, these parties typically do not openly discuss the issues surrounding this important management decision. In addition to presenting the results of our survey, this article discusses strategies to encourage companies to consider women for international assignments and that women can use to increase their chances of being considered. It also presents suggestions for future research.

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