Women managers in Thailand : cultural, organizational and domestic issues
The main objective of this exploratory study was to add to the almost non-existent Thai literature on women in management. Three key themes were pursued throughout the study, i. e., the representation of Thai women in management, their work versus family responsibilities, and the barriers they encounter in ascending the managerial hierarchy. The study was conducted in three distinct phases. First, a survey questionnaire was distributed to 536 male and female middle-level managers across diverse organizations in Bangkok. Second, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 67 women managers. It was likely that those in public sector organizations differed in their background and work experiences from their counterparts in private firms, hence data was collected from women managers in the two sectors and comparisons made. Lastly, structured interviews were held with 25 Human Resource/Line managers from a crosssection of firms in which the women managers worked. The study found that the women who have succeeded in these organizations are the ones who have very similar backgrounds and attitudes to the men. They work the same long hours, and have the same interest in furthering their careers as men. Therefore we cannot explain women's career barriers in terms of individual characteristics, such as their motivation or commitment to work. The results suggest that organizational structures and processes are central to an understanding of the ways Thai women are marginalized and excluded from managerial positions. For instance, women were clustered in relatively few occupations, received less in terms of earnings and training, had smaller spans of management, and less authority for final decisions than men. During interviews, women managers mentioned that the negative attitudes of male managers and gender biases in organizational practices, were barriers they had frequently encountered. The data also revealed that the contradictory and ambiguous values that underlie women's role as wife-mother at home and manager at work, necessitated a constant struggle for balance and remarkable personal sacrifices on the part of Thai women managers. By way of conclusion this dissertation submits that there is not a single cause that constrains women's advancement but rather a pattern of cultural, social and legal factors that characterizes the general situation of women managers in Thailand. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings for women in management are discussed and future directions for research in this area are suggested.