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In many cases, international experience is a requirement for obtaining a promotion. In this sense, a female executive stated that she had to travel 4 days per month to get her promotion. Another female executive said that, in her previous job, she had had to travel 8 weeks out of 10, which had a tremendous emotional cost; moreover, her husband also travelled for work, and, for this reason, she felt she needed to change her job.

Other female executives said that they had to avoid travelling, meaning that their professional experience was only local rather than national or international, which restricted their promotion to only certain positions. Some male executives stated that most organisations do not want to hire women because of the costs incurred when these female employees become pregnant.

They went on to say that these pregnancies also limited the female employees' work experience. Moreover, they also said that top-level positions require travel, which many Peruvian women cannot undertake because of their family responsibilities. Another challenge facing Peruvian female executives is developing informal networks and social capital.

Networks increase their members' visibility to other key people and help develop business opportunities.

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As one male interviewee observed, "Informal networks help men to get into businesses". Most Peruvian organisations organise football championships to consolidate and strengthen the relationships within teams and between the departments of the company. The downside of these championships is that only men play football in Peru. Professional women with family responsibilities generally participate in social activities during working hours only.

The men interviewed agreed that women should not participate in gatherings outside work for cultural reasons. In this sense, another male interviewee said, "It is still uncommon for a woman with a family to use her free time participating in informal gatherings, [ Another challenge that female executives face regarding their career advancement is organisational culture. Most female interviewees indicated that the behaviour of most organisations is based on gender stereotypes, characterising women as dependent, indecisive people who are sensitive and who must take care of their children.

In contrast, some male executives observed that since the financial crisis of the s, women have had to work, either in salaried positions or in their own businesses, to help their family budgets. They also mentioned that gender stereotypes in their organisations have been declining steadily.

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However, for many organisations, hiring a man instead of a woman is perceived as less of a risk for the organisation. One of the interviewees remarked, "Women are at a disadvantage beginning at the recruiting stage because a company may consider a woman riskier because she has to balance home, family and, at a certain point, pregnancy benefits".

1. Introduction

The unmarried female interviewees without children commented that they face some stereotypes in their organisations, such as the mind-set that women should be mothers, without taking into consideration that not all women aspire to motherhood. They also confront the view that managerial positions should be occupied by men, since women do not have leadership skills, and the perspective that women who obtain executive or managerial positions do so more thanks to their sensuality than to their professional skills. The interviewees said these stereotypes have made their own career advancements more difficult.

This study shows that the four global challenges are also present in Peru, with family responsibilities being the one that is most crucial to the careers of women executives, as this study's findings coincide with those of other studies conducted in other parts of the world, such as those by Tharenou, Latimer and Conroy, ; Hewlett, ; O'Neil and Bilimoria, ; Lyonette and Crompton, ; and Bass, , although with certain distinctive features.

It must be added that telework, although regulated by national law, is still a relatively new and less frequently implemented practice and, on the other hand, as some have said Kogan, , it does not tend to be approved of in Peruvian society. Peruvian male executives, due to their country's culture, consider limitations on women's career advancement, especially family responsibilities, to be something natural and normal. For example, many Peruvian women with young children stop working in order to dedicate themselves to their children; in this sense, men recognise that they could feel frustrated regarding their career advancement, but in reality, according to the male executives, this frustration is compensated for by the fact that they are raising their children well.

Female executives have accepted these restrictions to their career advancement and have adapted to this situation with initiatives such as opening their own small businesses. Indeed, being an executive in Peru is an extremely demanding task, maybe more so than it is in other parts of the world.

In a study of Peruvian executives men and women , more than half said they work more than fifty hours a week on average, that is, more than ten hours per day Monday to Friday. These data are very critical and revealing about the demands placed on Peruvian executives.

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It must also be emphasised that, for both male and female executives, the partner who has chosen to put off his or her career if it was necessary to attend to family priorities childcare, caretaking for elderly family members, etc. The repercussion was a lack of professional experience for the woman in these situations. This finding coincides with that of a study conducted by Tharenou et al. The results of this study furthermore reveal that the majority of the women interviewed had changed sectors, which could be a trend in the career management of Peruvian female executives: a trend to be self-directed as a function of their own needs and expectations.

Furthermore, the men interviewed maintained that starting MBA studies is a priority for them in order to reach higher professional and financial goals in the future. At the same time, the lower number of women with doctorates in Peru, in comparison with the number of men with doctorates, demonstrates the fact that the greater time investments required by these studies means lower possibilities for women to start and finish them.

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It should be emphasised that very few of the female executives interviewed have stayed in positions that called for work-related travel. This is in accordance with the low percentage of women who have been assigned to international posts Brookfield Global Relocation Services, and thus have lower levels of professional experience.

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  7. Additionally, there is little evidence of clear and structured initiatives among companies to promote the development of informal networks and social capital during working hours. Women executives have limited time due to their family responsibilities, which means that women use social networks less than men do and that the time they interact on them is in the morning, when their children are at school.

    This coincides with Wirth's study , which found that women executives tend to establish fewer and smaller networks of contacts than men do. Internet-based applications could be an alternative to foment the use of networking among women; however, according to INEI b , men's use of the Internet on a daily basis is greater than that of women.

    Another important finding is that the national culture and the organisational cultures present complications that exacerbate the challenge of family responsibilities that Peruvian female executives must face when attempting to advance in their careers. Beyond the fact that Peru as a country possesses an abundance of prevailing gender stereotypes as the female interviewees commented, specifically, it is still a conservative society in which the family has a special value, as women are assigned the role of family caretakers Anderson, Indeed, Peruvian women grow up and develop in a culture that considers marriage and family of central import to society.

    In accordance with Kumra and Vinnicombe , this could cause Peruvian women to perceive a career as an executive to be more of a challenge than their male counterparts do. This context has given rise to structural barriers on the societal level that influence the organisational level. The limitations to career advancement that women face are recognised and accepted by men, but men do not question these limitations, nor do they have an attitude of change.

    Worse still, women accept this situation and deal with it, leaving employment or looking for more flexible jobs. Peruvian organisations still carry out only limited structured efforts to help women overcome challenges regarding their career paths. These organisations lack sufficient gender policies and maintain traditional practices that are immersed in their country's culture. However, Carli and Eagly say that, despite these labyrinthine challenges, women can still advance to high levels of leadership.

    In countries like Peru, there is still a long way to go in order to catch up to the level of the most advanced nations in gender equality. In Peru, it is necessary for the government to implement policies which encourage gender equality, such as educational policies and labour laws, and award prizes or other forms of recognition to organisations that promote gender equality.

    Also, it is important that organisations put emphasis on creating a culture of gender equity, expressed in their mission statements, philosophy and even symbols. Likewise, human resource policies and processes which lead to gender equity must be practically implemented. For example, some jobs could be redesigned to implement telework and flexible hours; performance evaluation could focus not only on attendance at the workplace but also on the measurement of results; horizontal promotion approaches, focused on people, could be put in place; and standards which punish gender stereotypes, and which guide equitable behaviour by collaborators could be established.

    Other practices which could help include the development of female mentoring networks in which successful women, in addition to acting as models to follow, support other female executives in becoming more proactive and to clearly define their personal and professional goals and career planning in order to avoid work-family conflict.


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    In spite of this study's results and discussion, it includes some limitations that should be addressed in future research. The first shortcoming is that, because of the filters for the selection of the sample, participants were obtained from a wide variety of sectors, numerous different professions and heterogeneous marital and parental statuses.

    In future research, it would be convenient to concentrate on samples by sector or by profession in order to investigate their distinctive features in greater depth; this would, in turn, permit the subsequent identification of the similarities and differences of the challenges that female executives in Peru and other countries face. The second limitation is that the challenges addressed in this research study are challenges at the organisational level; future studies could focus on exploring other challenges, such as individual features which may affect the development of women.

    Issues in gender and the career development of female executives in Peru should be studied in depth, taking into consideration not just level and years of education but also age, generational influence, academic field and study-abroad experience. Q2 Explain the challenges you have faced in your career advancement to reach your current position.

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    Q1 Comment on your perceptions of the professional development and advancement of your female colleagues. Acker, J. Inequality regimes: Gender, class, and race in organizations. Gender and Society, 20 4 , Anderson, J. Andina Agencia Peruana de Noticias.

    Peru: Lima Stock Exchange joins gender equality celebrations with bell ringing. Baruch, Y. Transforming careers: From linear to multidirectional career paths: organisational and individual perspectives. Career Development International , 9 1 , Career development in organisations and beyond: Balancing traditional and contemporary viewpoints.