The effect of career ambition and satisfaction on attitudes towards equal opportunities and family-friendly policies for women: A case study in Hong Kong

Catherine Wah-hung Ng, Patricia Fosh

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to uncover some of the reasons for differences in attitudes towards family-friendly and equal opportunities (EO) policies for women between senior and junior staff and between male and female staff. This in-depth case study of a multi-national corporation in Hong Kong that included a survey questionnaire, interviews and participant observation suggests four categories of female employees according to their approach to EO: advocators, supporters, outsiders and rejecters. The approach adopted was dependent on the woman's level of empathy towards the situation of working women and the extent of her career ambition. Four categories of male employees can also be classified depending on their level of empathy towards women's situation (similar to women's case) and their extent of career satisfaction (in contrast to women's career ambition), namely, antagonists, outsiders, fence-sitters and sympathizers. Women at higher levels were less supportive of EO than women at lower levels. No such clear relationship between organizational level and attitudes towards EO was observed among men. In Hong Kong, female managers had little expectation that their organization would be family-friendly and women workers who consciously chose to balance work and family accepted that it meant fewer promotional chances. No such self-adjusted depressed ambition was observed among men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-70
Number of pages28
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004


  • Equal employment opportunities
  • Family
  • Hong Kong
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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