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Published: 03 November 2015

The research is clear – whether you’re suited to a job or not has very little to do with gender

Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at the University of Surrey, Dr Ilke Inceoglu has spent much of her career studying the psychology of the workplace. She concludes that gender is marginal as a factor in measuring workplace success. Surrey’s MBA Director, Christine Rivers agrees…

“From the evidence in research literature and my experience of developing psychometric instruments, I’ve found that the differences between the genders are generally quite small. What matters most is the match between requirements of a specific job and the competencies and potential of an individual.”

Dr Inceoglu’s own career has spanned a two year stint as research assistant at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, a period as a post-doctoral researcher at the Aston Business School, and nine years in industrial R&D, working for psychometrics HR consultancy SHL (now part of CEB, an international management consultancy). She joined the Business School at the University of Surrey as Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour & Human Resource Management in 2013, and was appointed Associate Dean (Research) in May 2014.

Throughout Dr Inceoglu’s career, she has pursued what interests her, which has led her to research the psychology of work and organisations. She became interested in psychology having written a dissertation on Kant’s work during her undergraduate degree in Philosophy at St Andrew’s University, and went on to take an MPhil in Psychology at the University of Glasgow. The seeds of her fascination with workplace psychology were then sown when she worked in clinical psychology and saw how the structures in which practitioners worked affected the service they delivered to patients.

“I don’t feel that being a woman has held me back in my career, however it is a fact that representation of women in very senior positions is still considerably lower than that of men, both in the private and public sector”, says Dr Inceoglu. “The one time I worked in a very male-dominated environment – conducting a project with BMW in Munich for five months – I stuck out a bit because I was a female psychologist working with all these male engineers. However the working environment was fine. In the end, you are judged by performance and merit.”

“In business today there is generally a good mix of men and women although it still thins out at the top. The recruitment pool for leadership roles is one barrier: women aren’t necessarily putting themselves forward for certain roles. Recent research suggests that compared to men, women are given fewer opportunities for challenging work which help their development to become leaders. Bias can happen in very subtle ways. For example, there is still a perception that as a default, women are seen in supporting roles rather than leaders.”

Dr Christine Rivers, Director of the Surrey MBA programme agrees that it is the potential of the individual that is the core measure of success, regardless of gender.  

“Developing leadership skills and the confidence to work with and manage a diverse group of people is critical to success and something that is ingrained in the values of our MBA programme. There is often a perception that MBA programmes are male dominated but this is certainly not the case here at Surrey. Through our ‘Women in Business’ scholarship programme we actively encourage applications from female candidates who can demonstrate their contribution to business and evidence a drive to support other female candidates in future.

As a result, on our full time programme this year we have a 46% to 54% male to female profile with students from 16 different countries around the world. Our part-time Executive MBA programme has a 60:40 male to female ratio with students from 11 different countries.

We are extremely proud to have such a balanced and diverse classroom which allows us to provide our students with a unique and challenging learning environment. Being able to develop leadership skills and gain a global perspective of modern day business is something that we believe is invaluable and will benefit the careers and lives of our students well beyond their studies.”

To find out more about the Surrey MBA programme and the ‘Women in Business’ scholarships on offer visit our website (www.surrey.ac.uk/mba) or contact our team (mba@surrey.ac.uk)

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