Work, Family, or Both? Women’s Managerial Careers in Modern China
Saturday, March 26, 2022
10:30am – 12:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 308B
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Erfurt
Abstract: Since the 20th century, China has been undergoing series of social and economic changes. Despite the substantial progress in equalizing conditions for women in domains such as health and education, women’s position in higher-level management positions has evidently regressed in recent years. Building upon Akerlof and Kranton’s conception of identity, in this article I theorize how gender stereotypes shape career behaviors of women managers in relation to work and family. Drawing from in-depth interviews with high-ranking managers in the top 500 enterprises in China, I explore the structural factors that define the shared beliefs of women’s role in organizations and family, as well as women’s career decisions in response to the gendered beliefs. Results indicate a robust internalization of stereotypes in women’s career decisions as means to express their female identities. Women managers actively and deliberately adopt career choices, reflexively recognizing existing stereotypes about women’s roles in organizations and family. I argue that the identity approach serves as a new lens to foster the understanding of women’s underrepresentation in higher-level management positions in China by explaining individual career decisions regarding work and family.