Briefing Note - Resilience: Women’s Fit, Functioning and Growth at Work: Indicators and Predictors

The briefing note for Resilience: Women's Fit, Functioning and Growth at Work: Indicators and Predictors

This study was one of the four core programs undertaken as part of the Gender Equality Project and was published in July 2012. It was completed while the CEL was located at Melbourne Business School, and as such some of the periphery information regarding the CEL (such as contact details) may have since changed.

For more information regarding this paper, the CEL or the Gender Equality Project; please Contact Us.

The detailed research report is available here.


Scope of research

This research examines the indicators and predictors of women’s resilience at work. Women’s resilience at work is defined as women’s fit, effective functioning and growth in the workplace, even if the workplace presents a threatening environment.

Specifically, the research analysed:

  • indicators of women’s resilience at work
  • factors that foster women’s resilience at work (protective factors)
  • factors that hinder women’s resilience at work (risk factors)
  • the differential impact of male-dominated versus other working environments on women’s resilience
  • recommendations for organisations seeking greater gender equality.

The research comprised a meta-analysis of 88 studies incorporating 103 independent samples across both male-dominated and other working environments.

Relevance for organisations

Considering the many reported benefits of greater gender diversity, the persistent under-representation of women in leadership roles represents a significant set of lost opportunities for companies and nations. Even where the benefits of gender diversity are recognised, existing strategies for increasing the numbers of women in leadership roles appear to have peaked in their impacts.

In order to promote greater gender diversity across all levels of the business, organisations need their female workers to fit in, perform well, remain healthy and involved with the organisation, and progress through the ranks. By identifying the most robust indicators and predictors of women’s fit, functioning and growth, this research highlights several potential areas of focus for organisations seeking to promote greater gender diversity. The results of the study will assist organisations to:

  • assess and adjust their gender diversity strategies
  • consider effective strategies for the promotion of women into leadership roles
  • tackle more specific gender-related issues within the workplace.

Key findings

Indicators of women’s resilience

Eight indicators of women’s resilience were identified. They were organised into the following three groups:

  • indices of fit: these included experiences of sexual harassment, the level of sexism observed in the organisation and women’s positive attitude toward their work
  • indices of functioning: women’s health, performance, and recruitment and retention indicate whether they are able to operate successfully in their environment
  • indices of growth: compensation and managerial levels both point to women’s career advancement.

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