The idea that Geographic Mobility affects female career progression is not new. In fact, A Note on Sex, Geographic Mobility, and Career Advancement, which was published in 1983, explains:
“Lesser geographic mobility among women contributes to sex stratification in the labour force, and there is evidence that geographic mobility is related to income and occupational status.”
So how do we overcome this problem, which has persisted for decades already? Fortunately, social attitudes are changing, and with information from successful women in the Life Sciences industry, we can help you overcome this generational issue.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- Why Geographic Mobility is Important
- Geographic Mobility After Covid
- Being ‘Front of Mind’
- Develop Your Career with Lift Up
Why Geographic Mobility is Important
Knowing how the business operates in different territories is essential to rise through the ranks. Operations in America are going to be entirely different to operations in Germany or Switzerland. If you’ve set your sights on reaching a C-Suite role, then understanding global markets is crucial.
There are three main types of mobility when working within an organisation: Geographic, Functional, and Temporary. Each of these may require you to transfer to a new location, but typically provide essential skills or experience needed to enhance career progression.
As your career progresses, you may need to move to a new location permanently. This could be for a specific role, or due to a promotion. By moving at earlier stages in your career, you also show greater dedication to career development.
Functional mobility usually refers to a horizontal move (same level position, but different department). This type of move can be highly advantageous as it can help you build a bigger network. The common adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” explains the benefits brilliantly. By developing connections, you can leverage them later to help your career progress.
Temporary mobility involves changing to a new position for a limited time. This type of mobility is designed to help you upskill, while ensuring your new project develops more efficiently. This can involve you moving to a new geographic location
Geographic Mobility After Covid
After the effects of the pandemic, the need for international travel has dramatically decreased as the workforce has proven they can still work effectively away from the office. With this in mind, actually being in the country may not be strictly necessary.
Geographic mobility is not necessary to do global jobs anymore. This makes it easier for the women who want to progress in their careers, without needing to uproot their (and their family’s) lives.
Of course, whether or not you’ll be able to work remotely depends on the job role and the company you work for. Additionally, being in the office can have certain benefits over remote work, such as keeping you ‘front of mind’ with other team members.
Being ‘Front of Mind’
Some reasons why women aren’t always put forwards for roles which require international movement is that leaders may not have considered them, or assume they’re not interested. This could be for various reasons (for example, unconscious gender biases), but ultimately the outcome is the same.
In response, women have to make themselves known in their workplace. This can be by:
- asking leadership the best way to progress,
- consistently putting themselves forward for projects, and
- applying for roles and positions when they don’t fully meet the requirements.
One reason you’re getting passed over for international trips or positions abroad could be that you’ve never explicitly stated you want to go.
There’s societal pressure for women not to be assertive in case they portray themselves negatively. You need to overcome this if you want to succeed.
There is nothing wrong with going to your Line Manager and saying, “I’m interested in the [location] position. How would I achieve that?”. This can immediately open up discussion and give you a clear path of how to progress your career further. You may find that your Line Manager learning you have geographic mobility is enough to get you put on the list.
Make Yourself Known
Keeping your head down and working hard rarely gets you noticed. In fact, it may even lead to career stagnation as you essentially ‘fade into the background’. Instead, you want to have regular discussions with higher-ups, and find yourself a sponsor.
While a mentor helps you improve your skills, a sponsor champions you to others — especially when you’re not there. This keeps you present in other people’s minds, and can make it easier to achieve opportunities to expand into alternative areas of the business.
Develop Your Career with Lift Up
The whole purpose of Lift Up is to develop an international community of women who help lift each other up and find equality in their careers. We’re also creating a library of content, including blog posts, podcasts, and webinars, where we discuss various issues women face in the Life Sciences.
Best of all, joining the Lift Up community is completely free. We will never ask for subscription fees or referrals, meaning we’ll always be accessible to everyone. After all, we can only create change by working together.