Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of gender in the relationships between employee’s work experience and their chances of obtaining a job promotion. Design/methodology/approach: Five hundred middle to lower management Pakistan employees from service industries were surveyed. Measures used to obtain data included work experience, job promotions and gender. Gender was dummy coded. Moderation analyses via SPSS was used to investigate the moderating effect of gender in the relationship between employee’s work experience and job promotions. Findings: The results indicated that work experience was positively associated with job promotion. However, the results indicated that gender fully moderated the relationship between work experience and job promotion. Specifically, female employees were less likely to get promoted compared to male employees despite having similar work experiences. Research limitations/implications: Drawing together the human capital theory, social role theory and cultural factors, this study highlighted the socioeconomic/cultural barriers’ impact on Pakistani women’s career ascendance. Practical implications: There is a lack of empirical evidence about career ascendance among Pakistani women. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to conduct and provide empirical evidence so that relevant agencies within Pakistan can develop more gender-equitable promotional policies and processes. Originality/value: This study responded to the call for more empirical investigation of career ascendancy among women in developing countries. While this issue has been discussed in many developed western countries, there is a lack of empirical evidence in Muslim Pakistan.