Research on sex stereotypes suggests that gender bias is an invisible barrier—the so-called glass ceiling—preventing women from breaking into the highest levels of management in business organizations. Using data from a state-based professional HR organization, we investigated this phenomenon in the field of HR management. Building on the lack of fit model of gender discrimination and previous research, we tested two hypotheses: that women in HR are more likely to be concentrated in lower-level managerial positions in organizations that emphasize employee involvement (because of a related emphasis on stereotypically feminine managerial abilities) and that women in HR also are more likely to be concentrated in lower-level managerial positions in organizations that emphasize strategic human resource management (because of a related emphasis on stereotypically masculine characteristics). Our results support the first but not the second hypothesis. Theoretical and practical implications related to the glass ceiling are discussed. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: gender discrimination, glass ceiling, strategic human resource management, employee involvement


he glass-ceiling effect in organizations (Morrison & Von Glinow, 1990) has received a great deal of popular and scholarly attention in recent years, perhaps due to its persistence

over time. Recent studies on the lack of women in senior management (Helfat, Harris, & Wolfson, 2007) and the gender pay gap (Blau & Kahn, 2007) indicate that women are disproportionately underrepre-

Correspondence to: Shaun Pichler, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University, 241 S. Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, E-mail:
H u m a n R e s o u r c e M a n a g e m e n t , Fall 2008, Vol. 47 No. 3, Pp. 463–479 , © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/hrm.20227

2001). 1984). to study the glass ceiling using an occupational lens. ranks of HR. 2001. A previous IPM study found that women were underpaid compared to men. using U. Helfat et al. Simpson. hours of work. Townsend. Given these trends. The current study integrates research and theory from the sex stereotypes literature to further explore these propositions and uses data from a state branch of a professional HR organization to formally test whether EI and SHRM are related to the proportion of women in HR. their earnings top management. research tends to indicate that the glass ceiling persists even when controlling for these factors (Gray. p.S. yet tend to face a glass ceiling when it comes to reaching top management. 1987. how to indicate that are HR management practices related to women’s advancement in women are the HR field? Previous research has docuoverrepresented in mented disparities between men HR generally and in and women in terms of wages and career success in HR. That said. The existing empirical data tend to indicate that women are overrepresented in HR generally and in the managerial ranks of HR. Data from a study conducted by the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM) in Britain indicated that although women were disproportionately represented in jobs at the personnel officer level and below. “a glass ceiling operates around personnel officer” (Gooch. 1998). To date. (2007) found that there were more than twice as The existing many male executives than feempirical data tend male executives in HR management. as well as on how salient organizational characteristics. age. 2003). & Anderson. For inthe managerial stance. such as personality traits (Tharenou. whereas an emphasis on employee involvement (EI) may facilitate women’s movement into management (Buttner. yet Hardin (1991) found that altend to face a glass though women dominated the field overall in the 1970s and ceiling when it 1980s and were increasingly represented among the ranks of percomes to reaching sonnel managers.1002/hrm . Based on 1970 and as men. Fall 2008 sented in top management and are paid less than men are when they do reach the top (Kochan. & Mattis. and had less access to management training than men did (Long. therefore. Although these studies have been illuminating. and as equally qualified education. 1994. women’s representation in top levels of management has remained essentially unchanged over the last ten years (Pomeroy. and career strategies (Ragins. were less involved in strategy setting. 2007). 1998). Hardin. career interruptions (Lyness & Thompson. 1997). literature on the glass ceiling has focused on the characteristics of women that either limit or promote their advancement in organizations. were underrepresented in senior management. Gooch. were relatively low compared to those of men. In their analysis of executive officers of Fortune 1000 companies. while the proportion of women in management roles has increased more in human resources than in any other field (Blau. 17). 1994). It is important. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data. & Blum. such as organization age and industry. despite identical despite their being demographic and work profiles— that is. Developing a framework that explains why women have been able to enter into HR management roles in such striking numbers but have yet to make similar progress in top management is an important contribution. Some scholars have proposed that an emphasis on strategic human resource management (SHRM) may prevent women from becoming managers in the HR function (Legge. The next step in the research Human Resource Management DOI: 10. 2007). are systematically related to women’s advancement in organizations (Goodman. 1991). Gray (1987) similarly found that men dominated top management jobs and tended to earn more than women did. moved more slowly through lower-level management positions. 1980 census data. 1987). despite their being as equally qualified as men. because explanations for the phenomenon have focused less attention on how occupation-specific factors might promote or prohibit women’s advancement.464 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Fields. For instance. researchers have yet to investigate why this is the case.

advances the study of organizational diversity and inclusion by investigating how two prominent and increasingly dispersed HR practices are related to women’s representation in HR management—above and beyond salient organizational characteristics (such as age and industry). Both are theoretically relevant to our hypotheses because .. 2005). Dovidio. research in the management literature has yet to investigate whether women are excluded from top management jobs when an occupation’s top managers are gaining prestige. structural characteristics of organizations (such as managerial representation of women). as well as the This work … employee involvement and strategic human resource maninvestigates how agement literatures. Perhaps unsurprisingly.The Glass Ceiling in Human Resources 465 base is to consider women’s career success in specific occupations. For instance. therefore. sex stereotypes have characteristics … consistently been found to portray men and women as oppostructural sites. 1992). Brett. using the lack of fit model as a theoretical two prominent and lens. It concludes with formal increasingly hypotheses regarding the glass ceiling in HR. and historical treatment of women (Legge. and the formalization of HR practices (such as open job postings). and promotion decisions (Welle & Heilman. We then review the employee involvement and strategic human resource management literatures using this theoretical lens and offer formal hypotheses regarding the glass ceiling in HR. & Tyler. given the important differences between occupations in terms of mobility. Given the fact that HR has traditionally been a female-dominated profession. 1988).1002/hrm organize our article theoretically. above and beyond but on generalized characteristics associated with the group to salient which they belong (Perdue. this could have important implications for other business professions. Stroh. 1987. 2002). 1983). 2002). although research has previously indicated that women are prevented from reaching positions of power in male-dominated occupations (Reskin. with men perceived as masculine and achievement-oriented characteristics of and women as being nurturing and facilitative (Heilman. as is the case with HR (Oberstein. 2003) is reduced. then. placement. since the positive effect of female representation on women’s advancement (Goodman et al. On Sex Stereotyping The section that follows reviews the theory and research from the sex stereotypes literature. & Parent. 1999). 2001). especially for managerial jobs (Powell. dispersed HR Sex Stereotypes and the Lack of Fit Model of Gender Discrimination practices are related to women’s representation in Stereotyping occurs when individuals are judged not on their HR management— unique characteristics or merits. sex stereotypes have been found to be disadvantageous to women in selection. if sex-typed management practices are indeed related to the proportion of women in HR management. organizational For instance. Although this article focuses on how EI and SHRM are related to women’s representation in HR specifically. such portrayals can lead to biased evaluations of formalization of HR women’s performance and qualifications (Eagly & Karau. Gurtman. This work. sex-typed management practices may be even more detrimental—or beneficial—to women’s advancement in professions that are relatively male-dominated. Thus. Butterfield. organizations … Applied to employment-related and the decisions. one would expect that women should be more able to break through the glass ceiling in HR as compared to other professions that are relatively male-dominated (Heilman. practices. 1990). There are two types of sex stereotypes: descriptive and prescriptive. Moreover. we review theory and research from the sex stereotypes literature in order to Human Resource Management DOI: 10. In the section that follows. the theoretical implications of these results can translate into important practical implications for women working in occupations other than HR. & Reilly. female representation.

thus explaining women’s parallel success in the emerging field of nonprofit social work. Simpson & Lenoir. Human Resource Management DOI: 10. Descriptive stereotypes are “constellation(s) of traits that are thought to uniquely describe men and women” (Welle & Heilman. the historical evidence seems to support the proposition that women’s representation in HR management varies as a function of the extent to which HR is sex-typed as feminine (Legge. 1983) proposes that when one’s gender is incongruent with the sex type of the job in question. the lack of fit model also opens the possibility that specific management jobs may be sex-typed to women’s advantage. & Tamkins.1002/hrm . many of the women who were hired into the first personnel departments had been social workers. Wallen. When women demonstrate work. when a woman exhibits stereotypically feminine behavior. 2004). The lack of fit model (Heilman. 1990. 1983). Thus. Indeed. In the sections that follow. basic skills training. Heilman (2001) argues that sex bias stemming from both types of stereotypes has contributed to the glass ceiling—that is. HR as a whole was what behaviors are (and are not) appropriate. Sex Stereotypes and Employee Involvement Some scholars have proposed that descriptive stereotypes and the sex typing of work roles should actually help women break through the glass ceiling. and in-kind support to sick workers and their families (Simpson & Lenoir. the field of HR as a whole was viewed as “women’s work. she is considered a poor fit for most managerial jobs (descriptive stereotyping). The increase in clerical work associated with legal compliance also may have contributed to the increase in women incumbents during this time. prescriptive stereotypes describe how men years. ultimately resulting in downwardly biased performance evaluations (Heilman. the field of and women should be—that is. At first glance. Simpson & Lenoir. she is typically perceived as being unnecessarily aggressive and hostile (prescriptive stereotyping). early personnel departments concentrated on providing such services as employee counseling. with hostility and are disliked.1 Certainly the contemporary feminization trend within personnel work (Legge. 1986)—and contends that those invisible barriers are sex stereotypes. p. the invisible barriers that prevent women from reaching the upper echelons of management (Hymnowitz & Schellhardt. the lack of fit model of gender discrimination is used to develop hypotheses about the contrasting ways in which the introduction of EI and SHRM within business organizations affect women’s representation in managerial positions. 2001). 1987). For example. Fuchs. More specifically. 1987. However. 2005). behavthe “men’s work” of ior that violates a prescriptive stereotype—they are greeted line management. 2003). 2003) dates from this period.” in contrast to the “men’s work” of line management.” in contrast to masculine behavior or succeed at male-typed tasks—that is. 25). 2003). The sex type of a job is determined by two factors: the gendered characteristics believed to be required of that job and the proportion of men (or women) occupying the job (Welle & Heilman. Fall 2008 they cumulatively determine women’s position in management. based on one’s genviewed as “women’s der. since men may have been perceived as a misfit for this type of work. in its early years. sex bias will lead to decreased performance expectations and evaluations (Heilman. Legge (1987) notes that females typically were recruited into the field because this type of service work had already been sex-typed as “feminine” in nature (Heilman. Women entered the HR profession in large numbers again in the 1960s when the emergence of a complex web of federal employment legislation dramatically increased the demand for HR staff (Simpson & Lenoir. This rapid increase in demand apparently outstripped the supply of available men and opened up new opportunities for women (Reskin & Roos. Thus. 2005. and when a woman exhibits stereotypically masculine behavior. 2003).466 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. in its early In contrast.

1999). 1992.1002/hrm Although empirical evidence suggests women and men demonstrate similar task and interpersonal leadership skills (Eagly & Karau. Human Resource Management DOI: 10. 1990). Currently. historical record 1990. while men have been socialized to emphasize the instrumental aspect of relationships (Buttner. communal—characteristics. a similar dynamic may be at work in the field. “communal” skills. such as supporting and nurturing employees (Bridges. Rosener. stereotypes about gendered behavior are relevant. scholars argue. That is. one would expect to see a change in the balance of power the personnel function holds. popular and scholarly writers alike have contended that this type of management tends to emphasize stereotypically feminine—that is. theoretically. and man. Peters. be perceived as more appropriate sex typing of HR candidates for these jobs (Heilman. For instance. 2001). ing (Bridges. should benefit female managers in HR because “where facilitation is a prized skill. employees often are charged with decision-making responsibility for distributing rewards and determining disciplinary action (Wellins et al. Kanter. Van Velsor.The Glass Ceiling in Human Resources 467 This overview of the historical record suggests that the sex typing of HR jobs as feminine has worked to women’s advantage in the past. More specifically. Peters. Like other scholars. Indeed. Indeed. 1994. 1989. Tesluk & Mathieu. 1983). & White. encourage relationship building among them. Front-line employees also have new training needs. 1990). since employee involvement requires that managers work cooperatively with subordinates. The need to retrain supervisors and employees in participatory management techniques may stimulate a related preference for training and development managers and specialists who are perceived to emulate the skills and abilities they are instilling. traits Currently. we presume that gender stereotyping will be advantageous to women in the workplace under these circumstances. 1992. HR roles that are asjobs as feminine sociated with the implementahas worked to tion of employee involvement. the vast majority of training specialists and managers are female (Pomeroy. or at least are perceived to require. 1990). Rosener. such as training and development women’s advantage managers. some scholars assume that women “naturally” lead in a more participative way (Iannello.This overview of the age through facilitation instead of objectives (Gooch. 1994. In this connection. are particularly likely to be perceived as requiring more in the past. Scholars have argued that an emphasis on employee involvement in business organizations should benefit women because communal characteristics are required (or perceived to be required) of managers.” or feminine. In fact.. The essential features of employee involvement are that employees are encouraged to work autonomously and participate in decisions that can affect organizational performance (Lawler. This being the case. p. 2002) and have similar career aspirations (Morrison. 17). 1994. 1988). the lack of fit model is explicit in ar- . effective implementation of employee involvement requires that managers adopt a new management style (Tesluk & Mathieu. Kiechel. 1992. 2007). the propositions mentioned immediately above are consistent with the lack of fit model of gender discrimination. Rosener. 1989). The emphasis on involvement and participatory work.” such that women would have advantages in career opportunities (Gooch. 1989. As Fondas’s (1997) review clearly indicates. 1987). Again. “communal. suggests that the women should. 1999) that emphasizes relationality over hierarchy. a similar and abilities.dynamic may be at pervision to coaching or facilitatwork in the field. 1994). managerial jobs in a high-involvement context require. some scholars have argued that women are more desirable as managers in these settings because they have been socialized to emphasize the relational domain of interpersonal relationships. Managers must be trained when their role evolves from su. some commentators have even gone so far as to suggest that men should adopt feminine leadership characteristics when employed in firms that emphasize employee involvement programs (Aburdene & Naisbitt. build relationships with them.

Perhaps the most substantive change emerged in the 1930s. This is because prescriptive stereotypes dictate that women should act as facilitators. 2007). When the function is peripheral to strategic management. as corporate welfarism lost its credibility and a modern industrial relations system emerged in Western societies. women can “reach the top”. women were increasingly managers will be perceived as a fit for lower-level management jobs male sex-typed. however.468 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. because of descriptive stereotyping. 2004). As the field became more strategic in terms of handling labor-management relations and as jobs were increasingly male sex-typed. Legge (1987) argued that “women’s position in personnel management will inversely reflect the power of the function” (p. Over the past two decades. the concept of strategic human resource management (SHRM). This change in functional emphasis altered women’s relative authority (Legge. Sex Stereotypes and Strategic Human Resource Management Referring to a historical analysis of the personnel function. 2003). however. during World War I. 1997). we contend that employee involvement will benefit women only in lower-level managerial jobs. the relationship between personnel work and production efficiency was strengthened because of extreme levels of demand and became associated more with line management and less with social welfare (Jacoby. History seems to support this thesis. 1985). thus benefiting them when managerial jobs emphasize participation. However. 298). H1: Women will be represented significantly more in lower-level human resource management jobs in organizations that emphasize employee involvement. 1987). 1983). Since the majority of human resource jobs that senior positions. emerged and became increasingly influential in determining how HR departments made policy and shaped processes (Kochan. or the “pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to enable the firm to achieve its goals” (Wright & McMahan. More specifically. 50). Because the emphasis among personnel departments focused on dealing firmly and aggressively with union representatives in conflict situations. 1992. we propose: expected according to the sex stereotypes literature and the lack of fit model. That said. are politely pushed aside” (p. Women managers will not men outnumbered necessarily be perceived as a betwomen in the field ter fit for senior management jobs. For instance. incorporate such training tend to be located in the lower strata of This is consistent the HR management hierarchy with what would be (Burke. Fall 2008 guing that gender discrimination can extend to men when they are perceived to lack the traits and abilities required of a feminine sextyped job. “masculine” qualities were valued explicitly (Simpson & Lenoir. where employee involvement is emphasized. organizations have tried to directly link HR policies and practices to business goals Human Resource Management DOI: 10. men outnumbered women in the field and filled most senior positions. 34). senior managers terms of handling are still required to embody stereotypically masculine characlabor-management teristics (Welle & Heilman. more strategic in 1994). and empirical evidence supports this (Heilman. Personnel departments then concentrated on collective bargaining and resolving labor relation conflicts (Kaufman. because of prescripand filled most tive stereotyping. she argues that women in HR face a paradox. relations and as jobs As such. if not elbowed out.1002/hrm . Legge repeatedly mentions sex stereotyping as an explicit cause of the glass ceiling in HR. 2005). Increasingly. The proxy for power she refers to is the degree to which the function is associated with strategy setting. This is consistent with what would be expected according to the sex stereotypes literature and the lack of fit model (Heilman. yet when the function is seen “as a valid contributor to strategic decision-making. then women. Employee involvement requires that lower-level managers relinquish authority As the field became and share knowledge and information with employees (Bridges. 2007). p.

including decisions regarding overseas subsidiaries and operations (Oberstein. Surveys were sent to approximately 3. The trend toward the strategic management of human resources has represented a promise of increased prestige. 1996). therefore. instead. No two organizations were comparapractitioners.1002/hrm Putting the Hypotheses to the Test Working in collaboration with an Illinois state branch of a U. and organizational capabilities” (p.000 members of the professional agency.” Thus.4%. 2005). and is substantively engaged in helping an organization make decisions about domestic and global strategy. 36 +/– 13). please consider filling out Part B. such and for its as annual operating budget. we propose: H2: Women will be represented significantly less in top-level human resource management jobs in organizations that emphasize strategic human resource management. Approximately 72. These figures are comparable to firms from . Although 902 were returned. Human Resource Management DOI: 10. There were two parts to the survey. then. we did not dethe strategic fine for respondents what a topmanagement of level HR manager was. our return rate is well within the range recommended by Baruch (1999) when surveying top managers (that is. and Ulrich (2001) provide a model of the major skill sets essential to contemporary human resource managers. If you fall into this The trend toward category. bly similar on each of these dimensions. Clearly. organization of human resource professionals. 1999). and the representation of women in HR. and industry of each organioccupation itself zation.1% of the organizations in the sample were nonunionized. 170) of the business in which one operates. with strategic integration. Huselid. employee involvement. or that are perceived to be required. the second of which noted: “This part of the survey can be completed by toplevel human resources executives with comprehensive knowledge of strategic and financial information important to their organization and its human resources unit. representing a response rate of 30%. sponding about the same business unit by comparing the age. This is because stereotypically successful candidates in such organizations are men. In conjunction. Foremost was “knowledge of the business. the head of an HR department typically reports directly to the CEO or president of an organization. For example. technological. Thus. Drawing from Legge (1987) and the lack of fit model (Heilman. participants self-identified as cahuman resources pable of responding to this second set of survey items. participates in all top management meetings. both for the occupation itself and for its practitioners (Kochan. as well as other organizational-level characteristics. 1998). In The HR Scorecard.The Glass Ceiling in Human Resources 469 (known as vertical alignment) as they are developed in response to assessing present and predicted internal and external environmental realities (Delery & Doty. this represents an effective response rate of 23. only 155 respondents completed both parts of the survey.S. of HR managers have changed. strategic. from providing basic social services to employees to providing strategic planning as part of a top management team. Scholars emphasize that the socalled soft skills of human resource management have been replaced by a need for more bottom line–oriented business skills (Barney & Wright. HR has come a long way. We were has represented a able to minimize the possibility promise of that multiple respondents from the same organization were reincreased prestige. both for the size. 2007). we surveyed top HR managers on the extent and use of strategic human resource management. the skills that are required.” meaning an understanding of the “financial. and 29% were from the goods-producing sector. 22% of its members are top HR managers. 1983). Becker. given the characteristics and behaviors perceived to be required of the upper-level manager and the dominance of men in upper management (Welle & Heilman. According to the professional organization.

management have given the specificity of our hybeen replaced by a potheses regarding the effects of independent variables on differneed for more ent levels of management. 4 = to a great extent) and computed an average. Scholars sitions. The dependent variable in the study was providing strategic women’s representation in HR. The percentage of large firms.92). middle-level. Fall 2008 the same geographic area in terms of the proportion of firms that are nonunionized (82. HR has cbpbin/post97/go.lib.virginia. 1988).” We measured the items on a four-point scale (1 = to no extent. since few small firms come a long way. We planning as part of a asked participants to indicate the percentage of women in each of top management three HR job strata: senior-level.4%. This relatively low reliability is expected. participative decision making and autonomous work (Lawler. The results of this social services to study. then.unionstats.virginia. 1993). Union Membership and Convergence Database. Government Regulation Since government regulation has been found to predict the proportion of women in management (Konrad & Linnehan. Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. “Yes” responses were then totaled to create the HR formalization variable. http://www. http://fisher. done” and (2) “Participative (subordinate involvement) decision-making approaches are characteristic within this organization.1002/hrm Employee Involvement We based our measure on the key facets of employee involvement programs—namely.cgi). and lower-level poteam. based on the small number of items (Cortina. respondents answered “yes” or “no” to a series of seven questions.lib. 1995). in the relative representation of women in each. We operationalized the construct with these two items: (1) “Self-directed teams are used in this organization to get work . HR Formalization This variable was designed to capture the extent to which HR activities were formalized within an organization. Human Resource Management DOI: 10. “yes” and “no” answers were also solicited for two items: (1) “Is your organization subject to a periodic review by an outside accreditation or licensing organization?” and (2) “Is your organization’s operation regulated in any way by government agencies?” The “yes” answers were totaled to create a government regulation variable (Reskin & McBrier.8%. then. Since organizations use different job titles to describe reemphasize that the sponsibilities at each managerial so-called soft skills level. http:// fisher. are perhaps best generalized to firms large enough to employees to sustain such units. have the resources available to from providing basic create and maintain separate HR departments. contrasted with the population of firms operating in Cook County.470 HUMAN RESOURCE Clearly. All items ranged from 1 (to no extent) to 4 (to a great extent).edu/cgi-local/cbpbin/post97/go. we did not specifically define these strata. Strategic Human Resource Management Nineteen items that measured the strategic integration of the HR function were scaled to form the SHRM variable (Cronbach’s α =. instead. where the largest category by establishment size is 0–50 employees (90. In line with the approach adopted by Reskin and McBrier (2000). This is not surprising. We incorporated several other control variables into our analysis that have been repeatedly confirmed to influence female representation in management.66.cgi). line–oriented business skills. We were interof human resource ested. 2000). 29%. The estimated internal consistency reliability of this scale is α = . The independent variables are debottom scribed in the next sections. The items were all drawn from a strategic HR audit developed by Oberstein (1999).com) and operate in the goods-producing sector (22%. Geospatial and Statistical Data Center.

thus buttressing the va- Unionization The percentage of employees unionized within a firm served as this variable. Organization Size This was measured as follows: 1 = 1 to 50 employees. As expected. Since our hypercentage potheses concerned the relative position of women in specific representation of strata. Organizational size has been consistently related to the adoption of innovative HR practices (Kochan. nonture of our independent variables using confirmatory factor analysis HR positions). Goodman et al. & Chalykoff.01). We controlled for market competition by asking respondents to indicate on a four-point scale the extent to which the following statement was true for their organization: “This organization faces competition in its product or service market. in clerical. p < . as well as the proportion of HR). “Approximately how old is your organization (in years)?” We controlled for this variable since organizational age is related to the proportion of women in management (Blum et al. 1986. Organization Age This was measured based on the numeric response to the question. 1994). McKersie. We verified the factor strucwhole (that is. 2000). non-HR positions). and in nonmanRespondents were agerial positions within the orasked the ganization as a whole (that is. an industry dummy variable was created and coded. Goodman et al. middle. Respondents were asked the percentage representation of women in technical human resource positions (technical HR).001 to 2.000 employees. or ical staff. and correlations can be found in Table I. positions (technical and lower levels of management.57..positions within the ment hierarchy might influence feorganization as a male representation at another level.01) and the employee involvement variable (r = . A multivariate analysis of coother support staff variance (MANCOVA) was conducted to test our hypotheses bepositions in HR cause we presumed that our dependent variables were not nec. administrative. & Goodman. standard deviations. as female representation at one level within the HR manage. 2003). strategic human resource management and employee involvement are highly related but clearly distinct constructs (r = .. p < .47. Osterman. Results Means.1002/hrm .(clerical HR).. and 5 = more than 2.The Glass Ceiling in Human Resources 471 Market Competition This has been found to be related to the proportion of women in management (Reskin & McBrier. Moreover. we measured female representation in the organization according to three variables. 2003). Fields. 1994. instead of defining strata of the HR management function women in technical for respondents. women in technical staff and cleradministrative. As such. 2 = 51 to 500 employees.” Industry Service industries tend to have more women in top management positions than manufacturers do (Blum..26. and in essarily independent of one annonmanagerial other. Female Representation Since the representation of women in an organization’s management positions is related Human Resource Management DOI: 10. 1994).7. 1994. with 1 representing a manufacturing firm and 0 a nonmanufacturing firm. to the overall proportion of women in an organization (Blum et al. 3 = 501 to 1. both the strategic human resource management variable (r = . in clerical.000 employees. p < . or other support staff positions in HR (clerical HR).000 employees. 4 = 1. in LISREL 8. we asked them human resource to report the relative proportion of women at the senior.01) are significantly related to the extent of HR formalization.

Organizational Age 7.28 .20 .05 .40 . EI 3.46 -.09 –.26 --2.31 .51 .01 -.65 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 2.21 .07 .02 .37 .23 51. Middle Management 12.09 .84 Mean 2.18 –.1002/hrm Note: All correlations above 0. Fall 2008 Variable 1.02 –.42 -.35 . Market Competition 5. Clerical HR 9.37 –.70 -- 10.09 .16 –.09 .07 –.05 –.12 .37 .39 .38 .53 .35 .05 .17 .12 .60 2.53 . Lower-Level Management Human Resource Management DOI: 10.35 . .25 .10 –.32 . Nonmanagerial -. SHRM -.57 .16 .06 .03 3.34 .63 -.03 .03 .74 . HR Formalization 4.00 -–.12 .10 .06 –. Top Management 11.08 .01 .07 –.23 .75 1.02 -.08 .31 .41 .35 1.20 .62 6.32 41.17 .44 .07 .04 –.05 –.06 –.10 are significant at p < .05.74 SD . Technical HR 8.47 .472 TABLE I Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations of Study Variables HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT.14 .04 –.35 .22 .34 . Organizational Size 6.31 .08 -.08 .04 .14 .00 .03 .

HR management. As such. Consistent with Hypothesis 1. Given that women are more likely to be represented in lower-level HR managerial jobs in organizations that emphasize employee involvement. employee involvement and strategic human resource management.034. we compared two nested measurement models to further establish the construct and discriminant validity of our measures. SHRM was not significantly related to the representation of women in lower. 154) = 3. Results also indicate that the extent of HR formalization was positively related to the proportion of women in lower. on their respective indicators. 1983). consequences. For a summary of these results. even though they are equally qualified.522.The Glass Ceiling in Human Resources 473 lidity and nomological net of our independent variables.96 . Discussion It has been 16 years since the U. This is certainly the case in HR. our results further support existing theory and research that suggest that women will be favored for jobs that are sex-typed as feminine (Heilman.S. Contrary to Hypothesis 2. women were more likely to be represented in lower-level HR management positions among organizations having employee involvement programs. b = –. Similarly.085 . b = . This model provided an adequate fit to the data. and the change in chisquare between the two models was also significant (∆χ2 = 174. Interestingly. Inspection of the relationship between employee involvement and each of the dependent variables indicates that this variable was positively related to the percentage of women in lower-level human resource management positions only (F (1. Department of Labor. only the extent of women in technical HR positions and government regulation were positively related to the representation of women in top management positions.90 . and that the representation of women in the organization more broadly—that is.989.97 GFI . Results of the MANCOVA analysis can be found in Table III.96 CFI .471).12. Department of Labor released its report on the glass ceiling.048). ∆df = 1).and middle-level management but are still dramatically underrepresented in top management. Our alternative model was a single latent factor.and middle-level level management. we proceeded by testing our substantive hypotheses using our proposed independent measures. women remain excluded from senior-level management positions and are not as highly paid as men are.96 Proposed Measurement Model (Two-Factor) 1252.and middle-level HR positions. where women are overrepresented in the field as a whole and in lower. The first confirmatory factor analysis modeled two latent variables.079 .1002/hrm . The results also indicate that the relationship between SHRM and the representation of women in senior-level HR positions was not significant (F (1. The fit of this model was clearly less adequate than the proposed measurement model. Despite this. formally defining the phenomenon and investigating its potential causes. as well as related arguments that employee TABLE Fit Indices II Results of Confirmatory Factor Analyses χ2 df 184 185 RMSEA NNFI .87 IFI .96 . and treatments (U. Since then. 154) = . in lower-level nonmanagement positions—generally was also positively related to the representation of women in managerial positions.01 Human Resource Management DOI: 10. 1991). Before testing our substantive hypotheses.S. there has been a consistent stream of research on the invisible barriers that have prevented women from reaching the upper echelons of management.061. see Table II.96 . p = .89 Single-Factor Measurement Model 1427. SHRM does not appear to be related to women’s presence in HR. p = .

01 b –.989* 5.067 . That is.080 .039 .054 .018 .056 .025 . therefore.929 1.011 . as opposed to during interpersonal interactions.001 . Our data parallel existing reports. Employee Involvement. these results indicate that women are not being excluded from top management because of the strategic integration of HR with organizational strategy. however.010 1.017 .036 1.430 12. Welle & Heilman. 1987).328** F-Value 2.047 .040* –.522 . In other words. Gooch.126 15.058 . 1994). 2005). and Control Variables on Women’s Representation in Managerial Human Resource Management Positions Percent Women in Lower-Level HR Percent Women in Middle-Level HR Percent Women in Senior-Level HR F-Value SHRM EI HR Formalization Government Regulation Market Competition Sector Organization Size Organization Age Technical HR Clerical HR Nonmanagerial *p < . 2005) have argued that gender discrimination should be most detectable at the organizational level. contrary to what other scholars have proposed (Legge.010 3.551 3.029 . Given the high reliability of the SHRM measure. a female applicant) results in decreased performance expectations and employment ratings (Heilman. Scholars must. A related theoretical contribution is the use of the lack of fit model for understanding gender discrimination at the organizational level of analysis.153 .139** involvement requires stereotypically feminine characteristics (Bass & Avolio.478 5. as well as comparable variability between the representation of women in lower. The proportion of women in senior management in HR was not inversely related to the extent to which strategic human resource management was emphasized. Fall 2008 TABLE Variable III MANCOVA Results: The Effects of SHRM.001 .149 1.064* .276 9.519 . Human Resource Management DOI: 10. 1994.067 .002 1.05 **p < .118 .185 1.724 11.038* –.299* F-Value .001 . a managerial job) and a job applicant (that is.462** .and top-level management.138 2.644 4.587 3.344* b –. 2001.1002/hrm .288** .020 . Our results are consistent with the proposition that gendered features of jobs can result in de- tectable differences in terms of gender representation within a particular job type at the organizational level of analysis (Welle & Heilman. the lack of fit model has been applied almost invariably to understanding organizational decision makers’ individual perceptions of gender in the workplace.007 .015 –.061* . top management jobs are sex-typed as masculine regardless of the extent to which organizations use SHRM.056 . that indicate that men are twice as likely as women to hold top HR management positions (see Table I).509* .560* .905** .050* .808 . or to interpersonal discrimination.034 .999** 2.474 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT.530** 1.512 b –.299 .373** .001 .073 31. continue to search for alternative explanations for the lack of women in top management. most of the existing research that has used the lack of fit model to investigate gender discrimination has found that gender incongruity between a particular job type (that is.015 . Although Heilman and Welle (Heilman.123 . 2001).

particularly at the executive level (Dreher. upper-level managerial positions appear to be characterized in masculine terms” (Heilman. are positively related to the inclusion of women in the workplace. 2001. diversity training pro- . Those characteristics may benefit women in lower levels of management but prevent them from reaching top management jobs. the more women there are in a labor pool. 2003). Thus. such as employerits causes. especially when the skills women bring to the workplace are valuable and difficult to imitate (Wooten. perhaps because of stereotyping. since “with few exceptions. that the proportion of women in the nonmanagerial labor pool is most strongly related to the proportion of women in lowerlevel management in HR and least strongly related to the proportion of women in top management (see Table I). operations management. To advance in their career. this would tend to suggest that women are able to make it into middle management in HR but are essentially stuck at this level. so-called hard business skills are increasingly important to HR managers (Becker et al. Our results tend to support this explanation. 2001). 1988. Meyerson and Fletcher (2000) outline three approaches to the management of gender diversity in organizations: (1) training women to be successful in a male-dominated world of management. Supporting women through be aware of the organizational policies and pracglass-ceiling tices targeted at facilitating their inclusion in the workplace is also problem and essential.1002/hrm supportive policies and practices. however. Our results indicate. Practical Implications Our results suggest that HR practitioners should be aware of the glass-ceiling problem and attempt to remedy its causes. This type of training could be used to explain to practitioners the biases that are related to the differential staffing of men and women into gendered jobs. p. Our results further suggest that it is important for Our results suggest women to pursue technical skills that HR in their education and training and for organizations to further practitioners should develop these skills.The Glass Ceiling in Human Resources 475 One explanation that is consistent with both theory and our results is that women who employ stereotypically feminine managerial abilities and behaviors progress up the career ladder in HR. especially managerial roles. Thus. organizations should attempt to recruit women with related business training and line management experience into HR. 660). Research has consistently indicated that the proportion of women in an organization should positively relate to the proportion of women in upper management... Put simply. This proposition is consistent with social closure models that argue that behavioral differentiation based on gender excludes women from top management. the existing evidence suggests that success is more likely when managerial rewards are linked to diversity goals (Rynes & Rosen. 1994. sponsored child care. In the HR function. 63). 2001). valuing gender diversity often involves sensitivity or diversity training. Long. and (3) valuing gender diversity. 1984). Consistent with previous research (Gooch. As Meyerson and Fletcher (2000) note. Research suggests that so-called women-friendly policies attempt to remedy and practices. Although very little systematic research has been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of diversity training programs. 1995). Helfat et al. 2007. since the dominant group attempts to illustrate that “superordinate and subordinate groups differ in essential ways and that such differences are natural and even desirable” (Reskin. HR managers are expected to develop knowledge and skills in finance. p. the more they should be represented in management. Adopting women-friendly policies also can translate into a competitive advantage for organizations when there is a competitive market for talent. (2) assimilating and accommodating women through Human Resource Management DOI: 10. and strategy. Providing women with the knowledge and skills needed to make it into top management is one way to eliminate the glass ceiling.

His research has been published in Behavior Research Methods. the exclusion of women from top management is related to biases entrenched in institutionalized organizational systems. as well as with organizational theory on coercive institutional pressures. but we were unable to evaluate this using our current data. even in combination they may not be enough to remove the invisible barriers that form the glass ceiling. as some researchers speculated (i. Fall 2008 grams designed to reduce gender bias in organizations could focus on rewarding behavior that limits stereotyped decision making among managers. Finally. further research is needed as to why women are preferred among lower-level management in HR. 2005. Mark Roehling. 2001).. 1995. thus limiting the extent to which these jobs are valued by organizations (Cleveland. future research is certainly needed to explain why this is the case. and the four anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments. 163). one explanation could be that the more women there are to recruit from technical HR jobs. Although we did not predict that the proportion of women in technical HR jobs would be related to the representation of women in senior management. among others. Research indicates that occupations dominated by women require relatively lower levels of technical skill. & BarnesFarrell. must be changed. we found that women were more likely to make it into top management in HR when their organization was either regulated by an outside accrediting agency or subject to government regulation. Bass & Avolio. 2000). such as performance appraisal systems that emphasize objective performance standards (Heilman. Acknowledgment The authors would like to thank Ellen Kossek. Human Resource Management. Although these three approaches to gender diversity management can help support the inclusion of women in the workplace. Limitations and Directions for Future Research Now that empirical data support an association between EI and women in management. p. the Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2001). Removing gender bias from such organizational systems as selection decisions and performance evaluation is essential to increasing gender diversity in organizations. therefore. This is consistent with existing research (Konrad & Linnehan. especially at the highest levels of management (Heilman. such as performance appraisals. these systems. and performance management and appraisal.476 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Since we did not find that employee involvement helped women to shatter the glass ceiling. Arup Varma. the more likely they are to reach senior management. It would be worthwhile to more thoroughly investigate how regulation by accrediting and government agencies is related to women’s ability to make it into senior-level HR management positions. and the Oxford Handbook of HRM. exploratory research could also inves- tigate why this is so. Special thanks go to Lynn Wooten for her guidance and suggestions on an earlier version of this article. SHAUN PICHLER is a PhD candidate in the School of Labor & Industrial Relations at Michigan State University. the International Journal of Human Resource Management.1002/hrm . 1994). too. Reskin & McBrier. and whether involvement-based management is somehow related to women in HR being stuck in lower levels of management. As Meyerson and Fletcher (2000) noted. Human Resource Management DOI: 10. Instruments & Computers. This may be because women are stereotypically perceived to lead in a participatory way. the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.e. work and family. His research interests include workplace discrimination. Vescio. as well as their advancement into senior management. Thus.

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