Critical Issues of Female Managers and International Assignments

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Critical Issues of Female Managers and International Assignments

Stanley C.T. Ng

BA (Psy), BBA (Honours), MIB, MIR

Macquarie University

Business Department


"Globalization" and "internationalization" are undoubtedly two of the major catchwords of the past decade. While the specific meaning of these terms varies widely, one commonality is that both of these processes require the transportation of labours across national boundaries. Without doubt, this has led to the increase in the need of expatriates from home countries in order to focus on global assignment and assist better management across nations. However, most of the expatriates to date are male, even though the number of female expatriates is increasing during these years; male managers still take a large proportion of ninety-seven percents of having the opportunity to be sent overseas (Linehan & Walsh, 1999). Accordingly, numbers of studies have taken by scholars, which attempt to unfold the underlying reason behind this trend; in particular, the variables that most multinational enterprise (MNEs) considers when making selection between male and/or female expatriates.

As we should soon see, bias and stereotypes that favour male expatriate exist in almost every MNE. Although, some studies claim that many of the MNEs aware of such problem, but empirical evidences have shown us that not much effective solution have been formed. Some scholars even argue that the causes of this problem are difficult to overcome, since the "role of gender" has embedded into our social and cultural norms, which is difficult to change from the outside-in approach. As such, it is suggested that in order to reduce this tendency and to increase the pool of talents, MNEs have to form better HRM strategies, increase their awareness of the bias/stereotypes, and the social actors (i.e. government and different social groups) should also support the female candidates for international assignment.