Gender Bias in International Business

Negotiations Emphasis:

Business negotiations are perhaps the most fundamental commercial rituals. All the just discussed differences in business customs and culture come into play more frequently and are more obviously in the negotiating process than in any other aspect of business. The basic elements of business negotiations are the same in any country. They relate to the product, it product, its price and terms, services associated with the product and finally friendship between vendors and customers. But it is important to remember that the negotiating process is complicated, and the risk of misunderstanding increases when negotiating with someone from another culture.

Attitudes brought the negotiating table by each individual are affected by many cultural factors and customs often unknown to the other participants and perhaps unrecognized by the individuals themselves. His or her cultural background conditions of each negotiator’s understanding and interpretation of what transpires in negotiating sessions. The possibility of offending one another or misinterpreting each other’s motives is especially high when ones’ self reference criteria (SRC) forms the basis for assessing a situation. One standard rule in negotiating is Know thyself reference criteria is the basis for assessing a situation. One standard rule in negotiating is Know thyself first and second know your counterpart. The SRC of both parties can come into play here if care is not taken.

The gender bias against women managers that exists in some countries, coupled with myths harbored by male mangers, creates hesitancy among US multinational companies to offer women international assignments. Although women constitute nearly half of the US workforce, they represent relatively small percentages of the employees who are chosen for international assignments – only 18 percent. Why? The most frequently cited reason, the inability of women to succeed abroad, might be more fiction than fact. As one executive was quoted as saying, overall female American executive tend not to be as successful in extended foreign work assignments as are male American executives. Unfortunately such attitudes are shared by many and probably stem from the belief that the traditional roles of women in male dominated societies preclude women from establishing successful relationships wit host country associates. An often asked question is whether it is appropriate to send women to conduct business with foreign customers in cultures where females are typically not in managerial positions. To some it appears logical that if women are not accepted in managerial roles within their own cultures, a foreign woman will not be any more acceptable.

It is true that in many cultures – Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American – women are not typically found in upper levels of management and men and women are treated very differently. Indeed, the scariest newspaper headline ever written may have been Asia Vanishing Point for as many as 100 Million Women. The article appearing in the International Herald Tribune in 1991, points out that the birth rate in most countries around the world is about 105 boys for every 100 girls. However, in countries lie the United States or Japan, where generally women outlive men, there are about 96 men per 100 women in the population. The current numbers of men per 100 women in other Asian countries re: Korea 102, Chain 103, India 109, and Pakistan 106. The article describes systematic discrimination against females from birth. Now illegal everywhere ultrasound units are still being used for making gender specific abortion decisions, a and all this prejudice against females is creating disruptive shortages of women. In some provinces in China there are currently 120 men per 100 women.

Despite the substantial prejudices towards women in foreign countries evidence suggests that prejudice toward foreign women executives may be exaggerated ad that the treatment local women receive in their own cultures is not necessarily an indicator of how foreign businesswomen is treated. It would be inaccurate to suggest that there is no difference in how male and female managers are perceived in different cultures. However, this does not mean that women are not successful in foreign postings.