Another ‘Glass Ceiling’?: The Experiences of Women Professionals and Managers on International Assignments



The last fifteen years have seen an exponential growth in research on women professionals and managers in organizations. However, much less attention has been paid to the small but growing number of women who are embracing international careers. This paper describes some of the main findings of a two-year longitudinal study of the experiences of 92 women expatriates in a variety of UK-based companies. The results show that while there are a growing number of women opting for international assignments (IAs), they are overwhelmingly concentrated in junior and middle management positions, have less options in terms of the countries to which they can be posted and are handicapped by cultural prejudices about ‘proper’ gender roles in some countries. The reasons for these problems are explored and some suggestions are made for improving international opportunities for women employees in the future.