Opening the “Black Box”: Factors Affecting Women’s Journey to Senior Management Positions—A Literature Review

  • Erica Salvaj
  • Katherina Kuschel
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)


The issue of women participation in top management and boardroom positions has received increasing attention in the academic literature and the press. However, the pace of advancement for women managers and directors continues to be slow and uneven. This study fills a knowledge gap by reviewing the latest empirical evidence from 2009 to 2016 to identify, organize, and describe the factors that affect women executives and directors’ career success (or failure). We integrate the 113 selected publications providing a novel framework of factors organized around (1) career persistence (staying at the organization) and (2) career advancement or mobility (getting promoted in the organization). Our framework organizes the factors at the individual, organizational and public policy level that affect both career persistence and advancement of women in top management positions. This framework has practical implications to several audiences: (1) business women interested in getting promoted or supporting other women who aspire to reach senior management positions, (2) executives from companies seeking to increase gender diversity, and (3) think tanks, trade associations, and government institutions committed to increase diversity. Our findings enlight business leaders and public policy-makers interested in designing organizations that retain and promote talented women in top business positions.


Gender Leadership Women in top management Career management 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica Salvaj
    • 1
  • Katherina Kuschel
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Economics and Business, Universidad del DesarrolloSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Dirección de Investigación y Desarrollo Académico, Universidad Tecnológica MetropolitanaSantiagoChile

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