Women now make up the majority of the labor force, including part-time and full-time employment. As a productive part of the workforce, the sheer volume of women in the workforce must translate into a considerable number of women in management. However, reports show that only four percent of Fortune 500 executives are women, and growth for women in management is stagnant.
One reason for this discrepancy deals with incentives to take on more responsibility. Women earn lower wages than men do, on average, for the same job, controlling for education and work experience. Management positions require extra time at work and allow less leisure time, which includes time with family. Lower wages for women, especially in conjunction with the elasticity of demand of women in the workplace, do not provide the incentive that women need to trade leisure time for more time at work. To break the glass ceiling for women in management, women need higher wages as an incentive. However, the imbalance in wages is not the only problem inherent in the gender gap.
Another issue associated with the drought of women in management is in corporate concepts of leadership. According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, cultural bias toward men and women plays a large role in promotions. In a study by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, researchers find that people believe women are better leaders in stereotypically feminine industries, while people believe that men are better leaders in stereotypically masculine industries. With this perception, a woman has an easier time rising to the ranks of management in the education field than the banking industry.
Even mentor programs do not dilute these expectations for success in management dependent upon gender roles. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, mentor programs that supply employees with direct experience in leadership positions have higher management placement results for men than women. These programs give employees an advantage in work projects as well, which is a way to get the attention of those who make the hiring decisions. Unfortunately for women, studies show that men receive the more prestigious projects in a corporate setting and control more funds within projects. In order to include women in management, these employees need access to better projects, which often depend upon professional relationships and networking. Without exceptional experience to prove management abilities to employers, it is difficult for women to punch through the glass ceiling.
Women bring important attributes to leadership when given the opportunity. Employers who encourage women to take an active role in industry culture have a more effective starting point to hire more women in management. Managers need to assess past promotions and the reasons for those promotions. If men maintain the majority of managerial roles, hiring managers need to insure that more women receive the opportunities to take the lead on important projects.
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