Shattering the glass ceiling in academia
: a comparative study of the differences in how women advance and reach leadership positions in the academic world in Sweden versus women in the US.

  • Meis Kadhem
  • Mahzad Khalili

    Student thesis: Bachelor


    This study tried to emphasize the differences between Sweden and the US when it comes to women’s career advancement to leading positions within the academic world. The differences between the countries were examined by studying women in leadership positions in universities in both countries. The three main research questions that this study was supposed to answer were:

    -          What are the different barriers women in leadership positions in the academic world encounter when advancing in Sweden and the US?

    -          How high is the importance of and different ways of networking, necessity of past experience, primary obstacles and other qualities or factors for career advancement in Sweden and the US?

    -          What stimulates and inspires a woman in Sweden versus a woman in the US to make career advancements to leading positions in academia?

    The main method that was used in this study was interviews and comparison of the answers from the interviews with earlier research and theories within the subject. Seven women with some kind of leading position within academia were interviewed; three in Sweden and four in USA.

    The results showed that the main differences and similarities in factors between the participants in Sweden and the participants in the US were (1) balancing family and work, (2) sex discrimination, (3) working conditions and promotions, (4) networking and mentorship and the last unexpected factor was (5) culture. The last factor, the cultural factor, was not processed in this study because this factor was a result of our research and was not researched about prior to the interviews. To conclude, the results showed that gender equality is higher in Sweden according to the responds of the participants.

    Date of Award2013-Sept-17
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKristina Genell (Supervisor) & Christer Ekelund (Examiner)

    Educational program

    • Degree of Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics

    University credits

    • 15 HE credits

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Business Administration (50202)


    • women
    • globalization
    • leadership
    • academia
    • culture
    • sweden
    • usa & career advancement.

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