Workplace misery strikes a blow for gender equality

A survey suggests that men and women are just as miserable as each other at work these days. Now there's progress...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 10 Mar 2011
It's International Women’s Day, and to mark the occasion, management consultant Accenture has commissioned a survey to find out exactly how different the working lives of men and women are. The biggest surprise? That in many areas, there isn’t much difference at all: according to the survey, about 43% of professional women don’t like their jobs, while about 42% of men feel the same. 47% of women and 44% of men don’t feel they’re paid enough. And just under a third of both men and women feel trapped in their jobs. So at least we’re all equally miserable...

The survey, of 3,400 executives across 29 countries, also found that although they might not be overjoyed at the prospect of a day at the office, both men and women at least have staying power: 70% of women said that even though they don’t love their jobs, they’re going to stick with them, while 42% of men said the same. And 59% of women and 57% of men said instead of giving up, they’re planning on developing knowledge and skills so they can ‘achieve career objectives’. Very grown-up.

There were some interesting differences between the genders - not least, the perception of just how much hard graft goes into women’s careers. When the survey asked people about what helps women move forward in their organisation, 68% of women said hard work, while only 55% of men agreed. Does MT detect a certain cynicism from the chaps that isn’t entirely in keeping with the spirit of IWD...?

Women also tended to be less ambitious - at least in corporate terms - than their male counterparts. Whereas 22% of men said they would like to make it to the C-suite, only 14% of women had a similar aim. And just 22% of women said they fancied any kind of leadership position within their companies, compared to 28% of men. 4% fewer women than men said they’d asked for payrises, and 11% fewer said they had asked for a promotion.

Of course, that discrepancy may be partly because some women still have other long term priorities - like having children, for example. But it might also suggest that some women aren't as confident as men about their abilities in the workplace. Which is just the sort of attitude that events like IWD are intended to change...

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