What Would You Sacrifice? Access to Top Management and the Work–life Balance


*Cécile Guillaume Lise-CNRS, 59 rue Pouchet 75017 Paris, e-mail: cecileguillaume@hotmail.com


This article is based on a current research, combining quantitative (human resources figures and statistics) and qualitative data (60 interviews with career managers, top managers and high potential talents, both men and women), conducted in a major French utility company on the subject of diversity and more specifically on the issue of women's access to top management positions. The main purpose of this research is to understand the difficulties women may encounter in the course of their occupational career linked to organizational aspects, including the ‘glass ceiling’ processes, informal norms related to management positions (such as time and mobility constraints) and social and cultural representations attached to leadership. The other perspective of this research focuses on the different strategies women and men build either to conform to the organizational norms or bypass them. The issue of work–life balance are therefore addressed both from a corporate/organizational standpoint and an individual and family perspective.