The issue of gender at work is a topic with no end of interesting, twists, and turns. It continue to be the focus of research and subjective points of view, and will likely be the focus of continued discussion.
How, if at, all does gender affect leadership behavior, pay, perceptions of women and men at work? What are the current facts? And, what are the implications for leaders in modern organizations? All questions we’ll explore in this article.
First, a few global facts:
- Women’s labor force participation has stagnated, in fact decreasing from 57 percent in 1990 to 55 percent in 2012.
- In only five of 114 countries for which data are available have women reached or surpassed gender parity with men in occupations as legislators, senior officials and managers; namely in Colombia, Fiji, Jamaica, Lesotho, and the Philippines.
- A total of 128 countries have at least one sex-based legal differentiations, meaning women and men cannot function in the world of work in the same way. In 54 countries women face five or more legal differences.
Additional researched business facts:
- According to a report by McKinsey & Company, having a critical a critical mass of at least 30 percent women in higher-level leadership positions significantly improves financial performance. (McKinsey, 2009)
- In DDI’s special report on Global Leadership Forecast 2011 data indicated that the percentage of women in leadership positions impacted performance. In fact, the greater the percentage of women in leadership positions the higher the rating in terms overall quality of leadership — ratings received from both men and women. Simply put, organizations with more women in leadership roles outperform their competition.
What do Millennials think?* (From Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, Dec. 2013)
- Among millennial women 75% say this country (USA) needs to continue making changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace, compared with 57% of millennial men. But only 15% of young women say they have been discriminated against.
- Today’s young women are the first in modern history to start their work lives at near parity with men. In 2012, among workers 25 to 34, earnings were 93% of men. Looking at all women earnings, the percent of earnings was 84%.
- Women in managerial positions is almost at parity at the lower levels. In 1980 only 7% of women were in managerial jobs versus 17% of men. Today those percentages are 15% of women and still 17% of men.
- In the highest ranks of management, parity is far from close. Only 4.2% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women; 4.5% in Fortune 1000 companies.
Who wants to work for a women? (From Think Progress, November 12, 2013)
- Of those having a preference (and 41% do not — up from 25% in the 1950s) Americans prefer working for a male boss over a female boss by 12 percentage points. But more good news — 23% of those with preferences say they prefer a woman.
- Since more people like women bosses once they have worked for one, the problem with having few women in very senior ranks is that it will be hard to close this gap.
Implications for today’s leaders.
- While things have changed, the issue of gender equality in the workplace is not “solved” or “irrelevant”. A solid majority of both young men and women still think there is a “way to go” to create true workplace parity of opportunity.
- Based on that, think carefully about voicing opinions demonstrating that you are out of touch and simply are not aware of what people think currently. Reading an occasional report on issues of leadership and gender would be valuable if you are interested in productivity in organizations and in being current in your thinking about “what’s happening in the workplace.”
- Expect that women will perceive more lack of opportunity than men and adjust accordingly. Get the facts for your organization before assuming people will see opportunities equally.
- Encouraging women and men to pursue leadership development is critically important. While millennial women may be more career minded than millennial men, it is impossible to know what a given individual woman, or man, thinks about the opportunities in your organization. Approach the issue with an open mind and with an eye toward parity in your sphere of influence.
Resources used for this article:
- On Pay Gap, Millennial Women Near Parity – For Now
- Sex differences in leadership
- Women Work: The Business Benefits of Closing teh Gender Gap
- Americans Would Rather Work for a Man Than A Woman
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