Quick and Quintessential Career & Job Tips
Job-hunting tips from the May 21, 2007 issue of QuintZine.
The perception of women in the workforce generates significant controversy, and although it has improved over time, acceptance of the female executive may not be as widespread as most men attest. This finding was recently reported by co-authored by Baylor University’s Dawn S. Carlson and K. Michele Kacmar of the University of Alabama in “What Men Think About Executive Women” in Harvard Business Review.
In 1965 a survey of 2,000 executives, half men and half women, was taken to find the male and female attitude toward executive women. The survey was representative of the executive population in the United States and was performed again in 1985. In 2005 the same survey was given to 286 executives and analyzed once more.
According to the survey, men’s attitudes about executive women have increased to the point where they are equally favorable when compared to women’s responses. Similarly, the attitude of men toward working for executive women has soared over the past 40 years to now be relatively equal to that of women.
Where differences begin to emerge in attitudes is with the belief that the business community will never fully accept female executives. Women today have less faith than men that they will be accepted in executive roles. Females also feel more strongly that they must be exceptional to succeed.
In general, supportive attitudes of women as executives have increased significantly since 1965. But the present research found that men tend not to acknowledge that females still face barriers for success-even though women say they still encounter them. Since women hold fewer than 20 percent of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies, and only eight of those companies have female CEOs, the authors conclude that, “on the likelihood of full acceptance and the necessity of exceptional performance… men’s perceptions are overly rosy.”
Myth #1: Motherhood will make it more difficult to get to the top.
Reality: Organizations are recognizing that the qualities of maternal leadership-perspective, balance, nurturing, and so on-are exactly the skills needed to manage a diverse workforce in turbulent times.
Myth #2: Mothers are opting out at alarming rates.
Reality: Interviews suggest that fast-track women executives with kids are less likely to opt out than women who have lower-level jobs. It stands to reason that most women with highly successful careers have more to lose by opting out than other women, that the financial rewards and satisfaction they derive from their jobs are greater than if they had been less successful. Therefore, while a woman in a dead-end job who has a child might find it easy to stop working, a woman in an exciting, fulfilling executive role will find such a prospect less enticing.
Myth #3: To become a CEO, you must carefully plan your career and life around your goal.
Reality: While you need to get the right mix of academic and job experiences to be even considered for a CEO position, you cannot plan every aspect of your life to the point that you significantly increase the odds of becoming a CEO.
Myth #4: Women who have to leave work because of family problems become bitter and resentful.
Reality: When high-achieving mothers stop working, they usually do so because they have decided they prefer to be at home rather than at work.
Myth #5: If I do take a break, I cannot get back on the fast track.
Reality: You must battle to stay on the fast track no matter what your situation might be.
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