Research finds female talent being squandered

Published 7 November 2007

The shortage of women in leadership roles continues to hamper the performance of Australian businesses, according to a Southern Cross University researcher.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student and senior Telstra executive of 20 years’ experience, Doug Page, will tell a symposium at the Tweed Gold Coast campus this weekend that female leaders are still frequently marginalized and their talents squandered due to the persisting gender imbalance in management.

“The issues were first highlighted and the glass ceiling phrase coined 20 years ago, but there has been little improvement since,” said Doug. “Most measures introduced by governments or businesses clearly have not worked and we’re seeing many undesirable outcomes, like the growth of the group think mentality, a lack of creativity, slow reactions and poor organisational flexibility.”

Doug’s study is finding that women seeking to assume leadership roles encounter all sorts of impediments along the way, including traditional, overt prejudices as well as more subtle but deeply ingrained community constraints like attitudes surrounding leadership traits and women’s roles.

Doug is one of about 42 DBA candidates attending the Graduate College of Management’s bi-annual Doctoral Symposium this weekend (9-11 November), which brings together business leaders, academics and researchers from around Australia. Speakers will discuss a fascinating array of projects, from workplace injuries and accidents to building social capital through philanthropy to creative achievement in science.

Associate Professor Peter Miller, director of the DBA program with the Graduate College of Management, said the range of topics reflected the modern approach to business and underscored the university’s high standard of research excellence.

“Doctoral research is about business in the broadest possible sense – the social as well as the business context within which we work,” he said. “Nearly all the business doctoral research conducted by our candidates has practical applications in industry and relevance to society. The symposium allows for an important exchange of ideas and is part of the collegial intellectual climate we are dedicated to generating at Southern Cross University.”

Among the other symposium speakers will be David Cooke, who is studying corporate social investment and why it’s important for businesses to build social capital through philanthropy. He has carried out interviews with leading social commentators – including Dick Smith and Phillip Adams – and conducted five case studies to assess whether corporate social investment is a mutually beneficial exchange.

“I’m finding that not only is corporate charitable giving a responsible thing to do, but to avoid giving can also be unwise commercially,” said David, a senior executive with Konica Minolta. “There are many tangible benefits for those corporations that do give to not-for-profit organisations, including helping the corporation to attract quality staff, improved corporate culture and staff retention, and enhanced reputation.”

Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.