, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 25-38

Managerial Life Without a Wife: Family Structure and Managerial Career Success

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Abstract

The model of the successful manager was based on the 1950's family. Thus career demands assumed the presence of a spouse at home to handle family responsibilities. This study seeks to determine whether women and men in alternate family structures will be able to succeed in managerial careers. Data were analyzed from two MBA alumni cohorts: one older cohort with three waves of data collected over a thirteen-year period and a second younger cohort with data collected in the most recent wave. A typology of family structure was utilized to categorize the managers into one of twelve family structures based on marital status, parental status, and spousal employment status. The post-traditional family where both parents are employed was found to be most prevalent for both men and women. A small percent of the MBAs were in the traditional family where the father is employed and the mother is not employed. Family structure in early career appears to be stable over the thirteen-year study period. Analyses reveal that for men, those in traditional families are most rewarded in their careers in terms of income and salary progression. Women had no family structure that achieved career success comparable to traditional family men. Despite increased acknowledgement of the varied family structures of managers and the adoption of family friendly policies by companies, rewards are not distributed equally. This has implications for managers, organizations, and society.