Managerial Careers in the IT Industry: Women in China and in Finland
Huang, Jiehua (2009-06-15)
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
This research focuses on the career experiences of women managers in the IT industry in China and Finland, two countries with different cultures, policies, size of population, and social and economic structures regarding work-life support and equal opportunities. The object of this research is to present a cross-cultural comparison of women’s career experiences and how women themselves understand and account for their careers. The study explores how the macro and the micro levels of cultural and social processes become manifested in the lives of individual women. The main argument in this thesis is that culture plays a crucial role in making sense of women’s career experiences, although its role should be understood through its interrelationship with other social processes, e.g., institutional relations, social policies, industrial structures and organizations, as well as globalization. The interrelationship of a series of cultural and social processes affects individuals’ attitudes to, and arrangement and organization of, their work and family lives. This thesis consists of two parts. The first part introduces the research topic and discusses the overall results. The second part comprises five research papers. The main research question of the study is: How do cultural and social processes affect the experiences of women managers? Quantitative and qualitative research methods, which include in-depth interviews, Q-methodology, interpretive analysis, and questionnaires, are used in the study. The main theoretical background is culturally sensitive career theory and the theory of individual differences. The results of this study are viewed through a feminist lens. The research methodology applied allows new explorations on how demographic factors, work experiences, lifestyle issues, and organizational cultures can jointly affect women’s managerial careers. The sample group used in the research is 42 women managers working in IT companies in China (21) and Finland (21). The results of the study illustrate the impact of history, tradition, culture, institutional relations, social politics, industry and organizations, and globalization on the careers of women managers. It is claimed that the role of culture – cultural norms within nations and organizations – is of great importance in the relationship of gender and work. Women’s managerial careers are affected by multiple factors (personal, social and cultural) reflecting national and inter-individual differences. The results of the study contribute to research on careers, adding particularly to the literature on gender, work and culture, and offering a complex and holistic perspective for a richer understanding of pluralism and global diversity. The results of the study indicate how old and new career perspectives are evidenced in women managers in the IT industry. The research further contributes to an understanding of women’s managerial careers from a cross-culture perspective. In addition, the study contributes to the literature on culture and extends understanding of Hofstede’s work. Further, most traditional career theories do not perceive the importance of culture in determining an individual’s career experience and this study richens understanding of women managers’ careers and has considerable implications for international human resource management. The results of this study emphasize the need, when discussing women managers’ careers, to understand the ways by which gendering is produced rather than merely examining gender differences. It is argued that the meaning of self-knowledge is critical. Further, the environment where the careers under study develop differs greatly; China and Finland are very different – culturally, historically and socially. The findings of this study should, therefore, be understood as a holistic, specific, and contextually-bound.
- Väitöskirjat