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Monday 14 March 2011

Women held back by lack of international experience

Too few women are working abroad compared to men despite being equally keen to go, according to new research into global mobility among high-achieving professionals.

The research was commissioned by the specialist recruitment company Hydrogen Group and conducted by ESCP Europe. It highlights international experience as a significant advantage to climbing the career ladder for any senior manager in today's global marketplace, but men still outnumber women four to one in making this move.

The Global Professionals on the Move Report 2011 also reveals women who work overseas tend to be based closer to home than their male counterparts, and keen to return home rather than stay overseas when it comes to their next career move.

The second annual report, released on 7th March 2011, analyses responses from 2,637 professionals with qualifications of a bachelor degree or above, with the majority of respondents – 91 percent – already working abroad or looking to do so. The survey offers unique insights into the experiences, attitudes, motivations and priorities of highly qualified, high earning, professionals from around the world on working overseas.

It also highlights the extent to which international experience is important not just to individuals, but to companies, with 63 percent saying international experience was important to their company.

Commenting on the findings, Hydrogen Group's Chief Executive Officer, Tim Smeaton, says: "The debate about the barriers to women's career progress has focused on issues such as flexible working and male dominated board rooms. This research aims to highlight the impact of international experience which further affects their ability to climb the corporate ladder."

He continues: "Hydrogen is seeing an increase in the number of employers seeking highly qualified senior women. From partnering with many large banking groups we've found diversity has become a key theme when finding them the best talent. They want to close the diversity gaps existing in their workplace to accurately reflect the globalisation of their business. Many of our clients now approach us to help them find highly qualified professionals of different genders, races and ages."

Among the gender-based findings of the report:

- Whilst women want to relocate almost as much as men – 41 percent of women, compared to 46 percent of men – with only 20 percent of survey respondents being women, men are currently securing more positions by a ratio of 4:1

- Double the number of women already working abroad were single - 51 percent compared with 23 percent of men - whereas the opposite was the case for men, 65 percent of whom were married. Generally women working abroad didn't have children, whereas men were equally likely to have children, regardless of whether they worked overseas or not

- When asked about plans for the future, double the number of women (32 percent) stated they wanted to go back to their home country, compared to just 15 percent of men

- Working abroad was found to be as satisfying for women as for men with 100 percent of the women surveyed saying they would recommend the experience to others

- Women were less satisfied than men regarding pay - 84 percent of men said moving abroad had improved their salary, only 74 percent of women reported the same - Similarly, 78 percent of men said their living conditions had improved, while that was the case for only 68 percent of women

Dr Claudia Jonczyk of ESCP Europe believes the findings resonate with much that is already known about the root causes of too few women in top positions. "It has been repeatedly shown that women face particular hurdles on the way to the top that men simply don't have to face," she says. "The ones that do choose to work abroad are helping to break down the traditional barriers and having an enjoyable experience at the same time."

Commenting on the research, Tim Smeaton added: "We produce the report to determine shifts in candidate perceptions of overseas working. We envisage global mobility will play a greater role in people's career decisions moving forward and have moved 40 of our own employees around our global offices in the last 18 months, so we understand the issues faced by both our candidates and clients when advising them about relocation."


Hydrogen Group is a global specialist recruitment group which focuses on finding and building relationships with high-quality specialist candidates that our clients have difficulty sourcing themselves. Hydrogen recruits across a number of global specialist practice areas including technology, legal, HR, pharmaceutical, finance, trading & advisory, and engineering.

ESCP Europe is one of the oldest business schools in the world. Founded in Paris in 1819, the School provides postgraduate and executive-level business education at five European campuses (Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid and Turin), and globally via a broad network of academic partners.


Further coverage of the Hydrogen Report can be found online via The Sunday Times, Financial Times, The Malta Independent Online and


Media contacts

Fiona Leslie – Communications Management
Phone: +44 (0)1727 733884    

Sam Proctor – Hydrogen Group Communications
Phone: +44 (0)207 090 7711

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