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Men vs. women in career advancement: Who's winning?

If you've been in the workforce for a while, you probably know how to get ahead. No-brainers such as staying late and networking with higher-ups are probably part of your repertoire. That should help you get that upper hand at work, right? Not so fast, especially if you're a woman, says a new study by Catalyst.

According to "The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All The Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?" report, common career strategies are often useless to women. The study revealed that taking on new assignments to develop extra skills and letting the boss they were willing to work long hours had no impact on women's advancement or their salaries, writes BNET's Kimberly Weisul.

Catalyst polled 3,345 young professionals on what kind of career advancement strategies they had used and found that the same career advancement strategies don't always work as well for women as they do for men. For example, doing all the right things doesn't level the playing field for women. Even when women used tactics that were known to help professionals advance, they still did so less than their male counterparts and had slower pay growth.

For men, switching jobs spend up compensation growth but slowed it for women. Men who were at their second post-MBA employer on average earned nearly $14,000 more by 2008 than those who stayed with their first-post MBA employer. In contrast, changing jobs seemed to have a negative effect on women's compensation growth.

But what did work best for women in terms of career advancement were making their achievements known and gaining access to powerful individuals. For men, gaining access to powerful people also contributed to greater advancement. However, in terms of compensation growth, men most effectively upped their salary by conducting external scans and showing a willingness to work long hours, the report found.

Posted on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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Reader comments

Mon, Oct 24, 2011

If women are progressing in their careers quicker than men, then society is not winning. Why is it more important for a person's career to flourish, than the family? For those of us that have chosen to have one "worker" (although in reality someone caring for the family at home works harder and does much more worthwhile work than anyone who works in an office), it also makes the problem worse because it's harder to keep a job, and to get promoted. Did anyone ever stop and think why, for thousands of years, one parent worked and one parent stayed at home? Maybe it's because it's what works best? Looking at today's broken society, two income families have not benefited society. I am proud of my wife and my family.

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 Jack

There are SO many factors not mentioned in her 'report' that influence a woman's upward mobility in the work place. What gender was her boss? That's be the first influence. Women promote women in my experience...and they do not need the qualifications required of men. Also, women in general seem to have developed the same entitlement attitude as ethnic minorities, i.e. "I'm female, you owe me." Regardless of their qualifications, should any boss promote someone with that attitude? Further, as someone already pointed out, there is a MAJOR difference in the style of leadership between men and women in the work place as well. Women are a lot less apt to compromise...on virtually anything (the queen syndrome). And, in general, I think women's perception of 'threats' change after they have authority: they become more hostile and...well, scary. I've worked for some very talented women who had the position but not the credibility or the respect of the position...largely because of poor perception and tyranical (sp?) leadership. Is it possible that the gender disparity in upward mobility in the work place is actually because of character issues? Do hiring officials see more erratic people-skill problems associated with women than men? Who's harder to get along with in the work place, in general? The report indicates that if laws weren't in place to favor women and minorities they likely wouldn't be hired or advance as frequently. How many of the hiring officials/supervisors are women and minorities? There's a lot of innuendo in these 'reports' that points to a seemingly down-trodden demographic in the work place but no case for cause and effect. Many men could even say they were repeatedly passed over for advancement as well? But that's not tragic is it? Why?

Fri, Oct 21, 2011

It appears, from my experience that "nothing measureable" is actually in the mix. The only thing that has changed the "scenario" for women is LAW! Men can work late because most of them have someone at home keeping the home fire burning. Whereas, women, don't get the same respect so they work at work, and work at home. Balance is needed in all the world, comes down to allowing "input" of women, their voices are as much a part of it all as men. Women are still treated adversely in many countries, even in the eyes of being the superior sex! Unfortunately, it is "allowed" to happen because "men are in charge" of the world, and see it all from their perspective, they hold 99% of the $$. When $$ is the focus, it's easy to loose sight of what is truely important. Someday, when the air & water are totally polluted, and the last soil is sterile,it will come down to them finding out that "You can't eat money"...BUT THEY SHALL BE KING!

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 Dana Theus Washington, DC

I think this is a fascinating study and it's certainly no surprise (as noted above) that men and women are treated differently in the workplace. That's been clear since the beginning. I think that as career planning advice it's relatively useless however, because it's entirely tactical. Strategically, people of both genders get ahead when they produce results that people know about. Essentially, that's what this says the formula is for women, but in my experience it's true for men as well. Producing results is the point of business and if you can do it faster and smarter without any downside, that's going to help you no matter what gender you sport.

Mon, Oct 17, 2011

There are a lot of factors in play when it comes to career advancement. If the study is only looking at three or four. it may find apparent sexism but not reality. Men and women are quite different and those differences will affect things like career advancement. That is reality and trying to stack the deck to change the outcome usually makes the whole system work even worse than it already is. All that does is just create more sexism.

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