Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
We all know those dismal and annoying stats about women in business – we’re about half the workforce but only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 15% of board of directors, and 13% of executive officers. It’s also true that women are making great strides and graduating with about half of the advance professional degrees, and that the “middle management” workforce is brimming with women. So, one would think that the future looks bright for more women at the top levels of business. That is, until they read the recent Catalyst report, “The Promise of Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline.”
Catalyst surveyed nearly 10,000 alumni who graduated from MBA programs internationally between 1996 and 2007 and found that “Among this highly talented group, women lag men in advancement and compensation from their very first professional jobs and are less satisfied with their careers overall.”
Surprised? I was, and wanted to give some thought to why this would be so. Here are some reasons I believe women aren’t making more progress:
- The male culture is so ingrained in the workforce that it will take a significant change for organizations to accommodate female talent. By companies taking small steps and adapting a few policies here and there, there just won’t be that critical mass of women to truly make cultures more gender neutral.
- Women place a higher value than men do on gratification in their work. I’ve seen over and over in research studies how important it is for women to feel that they are making an important contribution and are being recognized for their work. No matter what the monetary reward, women just don’t want to be in jobs they consider unfulfilling.
- In addition to psychic rewards, women want and need a reasonable work/life balance, and they are not happy unless they have one. My research shows that women factor this into their job decisions – it’s just part of our DNA. And it is frequently a deciding factor when choosing one job over another.
- Because men have ruled the business world for so many years, women often encounter barriers to their advancement in the form of exclusion and miscommunication. To make the push forward, women must be aware of behavioral traps and work on strategies to overcome these – and their organizations must help them.
It seems there’s some real work to do in order to push the women’s pipeline along – and it’s clearly in the interests of both the women and their companies for this to happen. Without it, an enormous talent pool of women is not being utilized to anyone’s best advantage.
What do you think about women’s progress? Please share!
Jean A. Eicherly says
Throughout history, women have been considered less valuable than men. It is not surprising that they take a second-seat in the workforce. Although strides have been made since the sixties, there is still much to be done. Perhaps, it will take a qualified woman president to assist with the change.
Jane Stimmler says
You’re absolutely right – a woman president would be the best game-changer!
You still dont get it says
Pardon this feeble minded male for speaking up…I imagine there was a sign at the door restricting my participation at this party but I couldn’t see past the cheerleaders.
First off: The only restrictions women have now is themselves (its been that way a whole lot longer than most would admit though). The performance of women in nearly all arenas is a direct reflection of themselves more than any other factor. Distributing blame and denigrating men has never proved to do much to elevate women…yet here again I see this author doing exactly that. I have known plenty of successful women and men and none of them invested they’re energy in the kind of thinking I have seen here.
Second: There are only 2 reasons that anybody does something in life…they want to or they have to. The real reason for such a disparity in male/female performance in the workplace is that the majority of women would simply prefer not to be there (they do have an option). Most women realize at some point they actually have a fair chance of never setting foot in the workplace if they can manage to use they’re natural attributes to they’re advantage. In the end this approach helps absolutely no one including the woman who decided on that career path, because its still an existence that is dependent on the effort of somebody else. This is also true of the woman who thinks that her success is in any way dependent on the acceptance, guidance or any other form of emotional warm fuzzy from men. Men do not get any advantage from crying about they’re poor choices or the odds against them, and for good reason, it is a waste of energy and counterproductive. The keys to success in life are now as they have always been, its only a fool who thinks that they’re genitals have something to do with it.
While I am sure some here will not believe it, men actually do have a very good understanding of being unfulfilled in the workplace, we also know despair, servitude, and discrimination. Lets not forget that the sacrifices men made long before now are the only reason we have the freedom and luxury to even question this. A tough pill to swallow for some I’m sure, but the pointed version of the truth seemed the only way to penetrate the fog of misconception here.
PS: The only reason I stumbled in to this party is because I am a single father and I was seeking inspiring facts to help my daughter consider a future in business. Go ahead and have a field day with that information. Consider this for a moment…are the odds for success better for a young woman who sees the stark, honest, un-filtered reality of the world or a young woman who is fed partial truths and a veiled victim mentality?
You still dont get it says
PPS: As for the “game changer”. We have a black president now and I have not seen any change in the percentage of blacks succeeding due to this fact. Is it possible that the color of ones skin is not quite as big an issue as we have been conditioned (or shamed) to believe? If there is any truth to that then is it also possible that sexism and racism are perpetuated more by those who claim to be fighting it than the dark nebulous empire of evil men who are hell bent on controlling the world?
A female president may make some women feel better but wouldn’t it serve everybody more to have ANY president who wasn’t compromised by special interests and broken logic? Haven’t seen that since I started voting from either party.
Is voting for a candidate simply because she a woman still sexism? Probably…but more importantly is it the same flawed and broken thinking that caused so many problems in the first place? You bet your dimpled chad it is!