Women in the Workplace

Harvard Business Review

Presentation Content

September 2013

Slide 1


  • Men get more critical assignments that lead to advancement
  • On average, men’s projects had budgets twice as big and three times as many staffers as women’s
  • Only 22% of the women, but 30% of the men, were given budgets of more than $10 million
  • Just 46% of the women, versus 56% of the men, received P&L responsibility
  • 1/3 of men reported that their assignments garnered them a great deal of attention from the C-suite

*Recent Catalyst study of 1,660 business school graduates, which examined the nature of projects given to high-potential employees.

Slide 2

Work/Life Balance

  • The women pursued their careers an average of 11 years; 60% worked well past the birth of their second child. None was pushed out. Fully 90% left not to care for their families but because of workplace problems.
  • Frustration and long workplace hours
  • Part-time work always led to longer weeks (40 hours of work for 20 hours’ worth of pay)
  • Inability to work part-time without being marginalized

Slide 3

Corporate Ladder

  • 325,000 women had entry-level positions (53%)
  • 150,000 has made it to middle management (40%)
  • 7,000 had made it to VP, SVP or CEO (35% Directors, 27% VP, 24% SVP, 19% C-suite)

* “Unlocking the Full Potential of Women at Work,” By Joanna Barsh and Lareina Yee, McKinsey & Company, 2012.

Slide 4


  • 65 women and 38 men recruited at large through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service displayed far more outrage over these morally questionable decisions – also thought they made less business sense

*Jessica Kennedy of Wharton and Laura Kray from the Haas School of Business

Slide 5


  • A series of longitudinal studies of U.S. workers, stretching as far back as 1957 and continuing through 2008, Timothy Judge of Notre dame, Beth Livingston of Cornell, and Charlice Husrt of the Ivey School of Business found that disagreeable people earn more than agreeable people.
  • True for both men and women regardless of occupational status and job responsibility.
  • Over time both men and women paid a further wage penalty if they mellowed and became more likeable

* “Do Nice Guys – and Gals – Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sec and Agreeableness on Income,” By Timothy A. Judge, Beth Livingston, and Charlice Hurst, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2012.

Slide 6

Career Choices

  • Survey of students who were beginning and elite one-year international MBA program, they found the women to be as confident as the men of getting a job offer upon graduation – in general management and consulting, but not in finance.
  • Lack of confidence may explain why later surveys of the program’s participants showed that fewer women eventually applied for finance positions.
  • The playing field for MBAs is completely level at the start, concluding, “We find no evidence that women are less likely to receive job offers in any of the fields studied.”

* “Do Women Choose Different Jobs from Men? Mechanisms of Application Segregation in the Market for Managerial Workers,” By Roxana Barbulescu and Matthew Bidwell, Organization Science, 2012.

Slide 7

Explicit Bias

  • When being considered for the same job, mothers were significantly less likely to be recommended for hire, they when they were, they were offered $11,000 less in starting salary, on average, than childless women.
  • Fathers were not penalized at all.
  • The raters, displaying a clear form of status-based discrimination, revealed that they assumed the mothers to be inherently less competent and less committed.

* “Minimizing the Motherhood Penalty: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why?” By Shelley J. Correll, Gender & Work: Challenging Conventional Wisdom, Harvard Business School, 2013.

Slide 8

Unmerited Pay

  • In a study of two large stockbrokerages, Wharton professor Janice Madden found that sales women earned less than salesmen because they’d been systematically given inferior accounts that generated smaller commissions and then denied support staff, mentors, and other amenities that would have helped them perform better, suggesting that outright discrimination can be disguised as merit pay
  • Women’s sales pay, as a % of Men’s – Insurance 62.5%, Retail 64.3%, Real Estate 66%

* “Performance-Support Biass and the Gender Pay Gap Among Stockbrokers,” By Janice Fanning Madden, Gender & Society, 2012.

Slide 9

Implicit Bias

  • Research points to the insidious effect of benevolent sexism – the view that women are inherently in need of protections and special consideration – on women’s advancement.
  • Women reported receiving less criticism – but also less challenging developmental assignments – than their male counterparts.
  • Rather than a mark of favor, less criticism was a sign of condescension.
  • Women received more positive comments (excellent! Stellar! Terrific!) than the men, but only 6% of the women (as opposed to 15% of the men) were mentioned as potential partner material, reflecting the application of lower standards to the women and (self-fulfilling) lower expectations.

* “Benevolent Sexism at Work; Gender Differences in the Distribution of Challenging Developmental Experiences,” By Eden B. King

Slide 10

Office Politics

  • 360-degree leadership effectiveness evaluations; at every management level women were rated higher than the men – and the higher the level, the wider the gap.
  • The higher the level, the higher proportion of men
  • Women proved to be superior on 12 of the 16 traits of Zenger and Folkman – Takes Initiative, Practices self-development, Displays high integrity and honesty, Drives for results, Develops others, Inspires and motivates others, Builds relationships, Collaboration and team work.

* “A Study in Leadership: Women Do It Better Than Men,” Zenger Folkman, 2012.

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