Published: Nov. 12, 2013

Men support cracking glass ceiling

Contact(s): Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949 Andy.Henion@cabs.msu.edu, Susan Linz Economics office: (517) 353-7280 linz@msu.edu

Male workers appear to support women becoming CEOs even more than female workers do, finds new research on the proverbial glass ceiling and job satisfaction in six formerly socialist countries.

The study, co-authored by Michigan State University economist Susan Linz, found that both sexes actually report higher job satisfaction when they believe a woman has a chance of becoming chief executive of a company or organization.

“Promoting gender equality at the top has positive consequences for job satisfaction for both men and women,” Linz said. “So it’s worth it for firms to create environments where women have opportunities to advance, as higher job satisfaction means higher productivity, higher revenues and a healthier bottom line.”

The study, which appears in the international research journal Kyklos, is one of the first to examine the link between job satisfaction and advance promotion opportunities at a time when more women worldwide are reaching the upper management ranks in spite of significant barriers.

In a surprising twist to the findings, men generally reported higher job satisfaction than women when it came to gender equality in the top job.

“We find little evidence that men dislike working for a woman or view women’s advancement to upper-level positions as creating a more competitive work environment,” Linz said.

Instead, she said men may view women’s ascension to the top as an indicator of their own promotion opportunities. “In other words, if they can do it, I can do it.”

For the study, Linz and Anastasia Semykina of Florida State University surveyed more than 6,500 workers from 700 employers in the socialist-turned-capitalist countries of Russia, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The researchers asked how likely it is that a woman could hold the position of director and linked the employees’ answer to his or her response on job satisfaction. While results from individual countries varied, overall the researchers found that men and women tended to support gender equality in the workplace.

“Even in cultures where women may still not be considered equal,” Linz said, “there is a positive link between job satisfaction and perceived gender equality – and it’s particularly strong among the younger generation.”

Linz said it would be interesting to see similar studies conducted in the United States, Europe and Asia.

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