Now comprising more than 50 percent of the workforce, women have a new reference source to consult for the latest workplace information when making career decisions, say organizational behavior experts from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
Editors Diana Bilimoria and Sandy Kristin Piderit of the new Handbook on Women in Business and Management have found it's a myth that women overwhelmed with family and work responsibilities are opting out of their careers. Instead, they say women are "optioning" into new directions with more flexibility and control over their work lives.
This is the first major edited volume on research about women in business published in five years and fills the void by reporting new developments in the areas of mentoring, networking and a variety of general fields that impact women.
British publishing house Edward Elgar approached the Case faculty members to edit the book of contributed essays that cover a range of issues from breaking through the glass ceiling to balancing work-family life issues.
The book focuses on four broad topics—societal roles and contexts facing women, specific career and work-life issues of women, organizational processes that impact women and the roles of women as leaders.
The editors say much has been written about women and their workplace lives in the mass media, but "research on women in business and management remains a specialized field of study that appears not yet to have reached widespread and mainstream acceptance as a scholarly field of inquiry."
This is evident, they say, of the more than 60 special editions and issues of major management journals over the past two decades, where not one issue pertained specifically to women.
The editors found that "troubling" and feel that there were lost opportunities in making the workplace better.
Bilimoria reports that where improvements better the conditions for women, all workers in the organization benefit, and it elevates the organization as a whole.
Women now have choices about their careers and are rethinking how they work. "Women aren't leaving their careers to go home and redecorate the living room," said Piderit. "They are looking for a different kind of success."
Even today's woman has redefined what success is. The editors say it is no longer defined by what place an individual is on the corporate ladder or the size of the paycheck, but how well an individual combines work and family life.
According to Bilimoria, women and men are finding that family issues are not just about having children, but for individuals caring for sisters, brothers and aging family members that place demands on the employee and the workplace throughout the span of one's career.
While women may push to have it all, the editors report that research shows times occur in an employee's working life when family needs take precedence over the workplace and at other times workers can stride ahead with their careers.
They add that organizations need to realize this ebb and flow of demands on their workers and accommodate it.
Women are seeking flexible work environments and organizational structures that respond to this work-family balance, said Piderit.
"We hope that the Handbookserves as a call inviting future scholarship of the kind that improves the societal and work conditions and experiences of women in business and management," write the editors.
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