Posted January 04, 2017 by

Women managers: discrepancies begin at first chance of promotion

 

“Women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager—so far fewer end up on the path to leadership—and are less likely to be hired into more senior positions.”

That ton of bricks comes from the Women in the Workplace report, released last fall by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company. What is getting in women’s ways? Does bias against women managers tell the whole tale? Or is something else going on?

That women fall behind so early in their careers should be a wake-up call to female college students. Seniors, who will be entering the workplace soon, should especially take notice. For years, young women have made up more than half of the college student population (and as high as 60% at private schools). The Pew Research Center reports that 71% of recent female high school grads turn their ambition to college. Compare that to 61% of recent male high school grads. Once they’re in college, women continue to outperform men. They earn better grades and graduate with more honors than men. It would be easy for today’s driven, hard-working young women to believe that inequality is something only their mothers had to deal with. Unfortunately, the real world is different than college.

“There are multiple factors that contribute to entry-level women being behind men at first chance of promotion,” says Simma Lieberman at The Inclusionist.

Many women need a boost in confidence

“Many women have internalized messages from media and have bought into other people’s bias about women’s abilities and careers,” says Lieberman. “They have not learned to negotiate or ask for what they want. I’m still surprised by how many women still believe that by working “hard” they will be discovered, that it’s not okay to promote yourself to managers, and they have to “wait their turn” to get promoted.”

You can’t take rejection personally

If an employer hires someone else, women need to stop seeing this rejection as personal and permanent. Liebrman continues, “Women need to learn how to separate getting turned down for a promotion or not being chosen for a project, from other parts of their life. There is a tendency to give up after one try which holds them back, rather than find out why they didn’t get a promotion and to let that cloud their ambitions and settle.”

Bias still exists

Women in the Workplace finds real biases out there. Women may need to work on their negotiation skills, but that doesn’t explain the whole pay gap. The report finds that “Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30% more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are ‘bossy,’ ‘too aggressive,’ or ‘intimidating.'” Our implicit biases persuade us to believe that men are more suited for leadership. That first promotion to manager is just the beginning. The STEM fields are especially male-dominated, which can make it particularly challenging for women to be taken seriously.

It’s hard to blame young women who ask why they should be the ones to change. Lieberman advises women to be “flexible and develop tools to show their talent and be recognized. Lack of confidence is not a trait that should be continued.” Women who want to become managers should be aware of how the cards are stacked, seek advice from senior women, and keep working hard.

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Career Advice, Career Management, Diversity | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , ,