Why Are Women Leaning Out At Work?

Posted on September 28th, 2015 by Melissa

Responsibility? Some women think they already have enough. According to a new study by researchers at Harvard Business School, there’s no gender gap when it comes to thinking that a promotion is within reach. But women are more likely than men to view the path to power as less desirable, and paved with potentially negative outcomes.
Why? Added responsibility. Researchers analyzed the results of nine studies using diverse populations ranging from executives in high-power positions to online panels that surveyed over 4,000 total participants. Overall, the researchers found that women listed more life goals than men, but only a small number of those goals had anything to do with achieving power at work. Women also viewed high-level positions as less desirable yet equally attainable, anticipating that happiness, prestige, and money would follow. The difference occurred when women anticipated more negative outcomes like the conflicts and tradeoffs, which the researchers said explains the relationship between gender and their desire for professional advancement.

Women Still Unequal, Work Harder At Home

Fast Company reports that women are still doing the lion’s share of housework and childcare. Combine that additional responsibility at home with the fact that women’s requests for flextime are viewed more harshly than men’s, and it’s not surprising that women are more cautious about taking on extra responsibility at work.
That women have yet to achieve equity in earnings is old news. However, things are also out of balance with regards to women’s equal status and leadership. While women make up half the workplace they only hold 18% of top leadership positions across all sectors. According to the Shriver Report released in 2014, women’s average annual paychecks reflected only 78 cents for a man’s dollar. At that rate, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that women won’t achieve full pay equity until 2058. To make matters worse, the higher a woman rises in management and pay, the wider the pay gap grows, according PayScale, a company that tracks self-reported salary data, women chief executives earn 71 percent of what equally qualified men earn.

Promoting Women Improves Company Profits

This isn’t just a workplace culture issue; it affects every woman and every company’s bottom line. It’s important that companies look for ways to make leadership positions more appealing to women. According to reports by Strategic Management Journal and American Sociological Review, firms with more women in top management are more profitable, and companies with more gender diversity have more revenue, customers, market share and profits.
So how can we build a workplace that works for men and women and supports a healthy and productive work-life balance? By working together. No individual woman is as creative, skilled, or powerful as we are together.

  • Women need to step up and take our place as leaders, and make a positive impact.
  • Women need to claim our right to have balance in our lives.
  • Everyone needs to work with colleagues (both women and men) to create leadership environments that are supportive and equal.

Companies that recognize and embrace gender diversity in the C-Suite win. And when we improve the lives of women, we improve the lives of everyone around the world.

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