Gender still holding women executives back

Women believe their gender still plays a key role in limiting their achievement in the workplace, according to a research report from Accenture.

by Accenture
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

While male and female executives both generally believe their careers are progressing as they had expected, women have lower expectations than men about how high they might advance in their professions, the report says. It claims that while geography has a far greater influence on attitudes and experiences than gender, in certain key areas executives believe gender has a real effect on how they've been able to advance.

The report was based on a survey of more than 2,200 executives in 13 countries. It found that women identified gender as the top factor hindering their achievement and reported having more modest expectations about the very highest levels they expect to achieve professionally.

In fact, women were almost seven times more likely than men to cite gender as the primary reason for not advancing more quickly (26% versus 4%), with men ranking gender 16th on the list of barriers to achievement, behind such factors as lack of passion and a lack of family support.

Globally, women were significantly more likely to attribute internal factors (i.e. who they are) as a barrier to faster advancement, while men were significantly more likely to point to external factors such as economic downturns, company downsizing and bad luck.

Both men and women said they had progressed at the rate they had expected - or faster than expected - when they were first starting out, but while half of male correspondents believed they had progressed faster than their male counterparts, only 37% of female respondents believed they had progressed faster than their male counterparts.

Women in France (44%) and Sweden (42%) were most likely to believe their pace of development was slower than the opposite sex, while women in Germany (15%) and Austria (14%) were least likely to believe this.

The report found that globally the burden of balancing work/home/life continues to fall more heavily on women than on men. Approximately half (46%) of male respondents with children said having children had no impact on the number of hours they worked, compared to 29% of women. Twenty-three percent of women said that having children resulted in their working fewer hours, compared to 12% of men.

Source: Accenture Review by Nick Loney

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