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Subject Successful female expatriates: deploying gender, hierarchy and culture
Tineke Cappellen, Maddy Janssens & Patrizia Zanoni; K.U.Leuven, Belgium
Outline Most studies on women in international management have focused on the reasons why so few women hold international positions, identifying three myths: 1) women do not want to be international managers; 2) companies refuse to send women abroad; and 3) foreignersí prejudice against women renders them ineffective. Emprical research has shown that only the second myth was found to be relevant. In this study, we do not examine the structural barriers that female managers encounter in an expatriate assignment but rather their agency in countering these barriers and producing a successful professional identity as a female expatriate.
    Our analysis indicates that female expatriates tend to attribute encountered difficulties not merely to gender, but also to culture and hierarchical, organisational power. Further, to strengthen their position, they compensate their lower status in terms of one dimension by referring to their higher status in terms of another dimension. For instance, they compensate their lower status as women in the foreign culture by drawing from their higher status in the organisational hierarchy. Overall, successful female expatriates can identify and exploit opportunities to reframe unfavourable power relations into favourable ones. These findings allow us to formulate implications for HRD in terms of identifying competences and tactics for female expatriates to develop in cross-cultural training. 
Source Paper presented at the 5th conference on human resource development research and practice across Europe: International, comparative and cross-cultural dimensions of HRD. University of Limerick, 27-28 May 2004 (Abstract; full paper incl. in CD-ROM).
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