Where are all the expat women?

Why are a minority of British executives who take up positions abroad with their companies women? Obvious reasons include:

  • A minority of British executives are women
  • Work orientation. As a class, women are less career-oriented than men (Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory (2000) – 4 in 7 British men are work-centred, only 1 in 7 British women is)
  • Hypergamy. Women seek to marry men who are substantially better-off than themselves, and this tendency increases as a woman’s personal wealth rises. The women who might be candidates for working abroad will therefore tend to have high-earning partners who would naturally be reluctant (or unable) to relocate abroad. The same would be less frequently true for male executives
  • Family responsibilities. If one person in a couple is to remain in the UK with the children, and the other work abroad, most women would prefer the first role to the second

None of this makes sense to work-centred feminists, of course, so I thank Martin for this piece of absurd feminist propaganda from the BBC. An extract:

“Women are just as likely to accept offers to work abroad, but they are simply less likely to be offered the opportunity to take on these roles” by their firms, says Cynthia Emrich, a vice president at Catalyst, a New York-based global nonprofit that promotes women in the workplace.

Only about 17% of women take international assignments compared to 28% of men, according to a 2012 report from Catalyst that studied high-potential employees from top business schools. Despite having the same willingness to take on a global role as their male counterparts, 64% of women say they were never offered a move abroad, compared with just 55% of men, the report showed.

Even if we take the data at face value, it simply doesn’t support the claim that ‘women are just as likely to accept offers to work abroad, but they are simply less likely to be offered the opportunity to take on these roles’. A majority of executives (64% of women, ‘just’ 55% of men) were never offered a move abroad, yet 17% of women took up the opportunity, compared with 28% of men. Surely this shows that women are less likely than men to accept the offers, as we’d expect to be the case?

Catalyst is a radical feminist campaign organization, whose ‘Bottom Line’ series of reports are used by those seeking to misrepresent correlation as causation with respect to the link between gender balance on corporate boards and financial performance.

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7 thoughts on “Where are all the expat women?

  1. You are right about the impact of gender. I was being pedantic about the porting of Marxist nomenclature (“class”) .

    I don’t believe that defining women as a class is a meaningful unit of study in this instance anymore than defining people under 1.8 metres tall as a class. In the merit based system that you (and I) advocate, the issue is the ambition of the individual and their willingness to overcome the friction of inertia needed to abandon your social networks.

    I might also add that there are some contexts which are actually patriarchal societies (in the current year!) and female executives might be less successful in those contexts. To balance that, there are some pan-Governmental organisations like the UN and the World Bank who will start by only considering women.

    As someone who has relocated twice in my life, there is no question that I found it easier to integrate in a new society than my (then) wife. So I agree that gender is an issue, but I don’t support the use of the label “class” to define gender.

  2. “Only about 17% of women take international assignments compared to 28% of men, ” Is that 17% of women who are offered positions abroad or 17% of women in a position to be offered such positions? Either way, they are less likely to accept.

  3. Articles like this also make me beg the question, how many people do they think become executives anyway? If you’re worried about the number of women executives who accept positions abroad, you don’t have real problems. It’s like fussing over how many women become CEOs, it’s like asking “are rich and privileged people becoming slightly more rich and privileged at a fair rate?”

    How am I meant to get exercised over the injustice of 64% versus 53%? What kind of person gets incensed over something like this?

  4. Most women at workplace do not even hide the fact that they prefer ‘flexible hours’ in order to spend more time with their kids.
    I would assume, that this alone would trigger the common sense response from employers to more readily offer overseas assignments to men., At the same time, the preference of flexible hours makes women less likely to accept, even when offered.

  5. It is impossible to make sense of feminism without realising it has at its core the division of men and women into classes (oppressors and oppressed haha!). I don’t see what point you’re making in comparing that cohort of women with that cohort of men. Gender differences will reliably play out in both social groups.

  6. Are women a “class”, Mike? Or have you adopted Marxist nomenclature? Tertiary educated, middle-class, metropolitan professional white women are a demographic more likely to be considered for overseas assignments, than, say, skilled or semi-skilled, working class tradesmen.

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