Scholars of gender inequality in the workplace are asked by companies to investigate why they are having trouble retaining women and promoting them to senior ranks. Ask people why women remain so dramatically underrepresented, and you will hear from the vast majority a lament—an unfortunate but inevitable “truth”: High-level jobs require extremely long hours, women’s devotion to family makes it impossible for them to put in those hours, and their careers suffer as a result. This explanation is called the work/family narrative.
In a 2012 survey of more than 6,500 Harvard Business School alumni from many different industries, 73% of men and 85% of women invoked it to explain women’s stalled advancement. Believing this explanation doesn’t mean it’s true, however, and researchers managed to put it seriously into question. Women were held back because, unlike men, they were encouraged to take accommodations, such as going part-time and shifting to internally facing roles, which derailed their careers. Taking this into account, there is an inevitable conclusion: for the firm to address its gender problem, it would have to address its long-hour problem.
The power of push factors:
Findings align with a growing consensus among gender scholars: What holds women back at work is not some unique challenge of balancing the demands of work and family but rather a general problem of overwork that prevails in contemporary corporate culture. Women and men alike suffer as a result. But women pay higher professional costs.
Ely, R. J. & Padavic, I. (2020). What’s Really Holding Women Back? Harvard Business Review, 98(2), 58-67.
Mark Kalin je izkušen manager, podjetnik, innovator, mentor, predavatelj in strokovnjak za vzpostavljanje inovativnih ekosistemov in transformacij kultur ter strokovnjak za vzpostavitev visoko zmogljivih virtualnih timov, z zelo bogato izobrazbo in poslovnimi izkušnjami.
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