PanamaTimes

Monday, May 27, 2024

The 'aspiration gap': Why many women aim lower than men

The 'aspiration gap': Why many women aim lower than men

Research shows many women don’t desire to scale the corporate ladder, especially in male-dominated fields. Can smarter diversity initiatives help?

The gender gap in pay, positions and even pensions for working women is well established, but research shows that a gender aspiration gap has also emerged in recent years. This is when women do not aspire to rise through the ranks in the same way as men do, and it could affect efforts to encourage more women to apply for leadership roles at work.

The global drive to increase social equality in recent years has been led by ongoing research about how women are underrepresented in leadership roles throughout the business world. For example, recent research shows that while the share of women in senior management roles is increasing incrementally, the “leaky pipeline” effect means that fewer women reach the highest positions in companies.

This situation has compelled policy makers and business leaders to create diversity initiatives in an attempt to tip the balance. Afterall, research shows evidence of better financial performance among organisations with more women occupying senior roles, as well as the wider economic benefits of ensuring women can achieve their full economic potential.

These initiatives tend to focus on eliminating bias and are aimed at various stages – from recruitment to promotion. Some companies also design flexible work options such as the ability to work remotely. Creating a culture of inclusion and support can also help, for example, by implementing mentorship and advocacy programmes.

Data suggests that women don't aspire to leadership positions as much as men, suggesting that diversity efforts aren't tailored to meet women's needs


Analysis of the world, from experts


The goal of increasing women’s participation in leadership is undeniably well intentioned. But when implementing these diversity initiatives, business leaders need to think about whether women even want to be in these leadership roles.

At the moment, many women actually do not aspire to be leaders, according to research I completed with Leah Sheppard of Washington State University, US, and Tatiana Balushkina from the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. Our meta-analysis of research comparing men’s and women’s aspirations for leadership and managerial roles shows men are significantly more likely to aspire to leadership roles than women. We looked at six decades of research with a final sample of more than 138,000 US participants. We also created a simulation based on these results, which revealed that, in a company with eight hierarchical levels, the gender difference in leadership aspirations translates into having 2.13 men for every woman at the highest organisational level.

Business leaders and managers must do a better job of factoring women’s actual aspirations


The difference in aspirations emerges around college age, according to our research. This is a time when many people gain their first taste of working life, through an internship or summer job, for example. We also found that industry matters. The gender aspiration gap can certainly be seen in female-dominated fields such as nursing and education, but it is much larger in more mixed and male-dominated fields, such as politics and business.

Even as the number of diversity initiatives has increased, especially in the last decade, our meta-analysis shows the gender difference in leadership aspirations has remained the same over the past 60 years. This could suggest that, either current diversity initiatives do not address women’s concerns around these roles, or that the initiatives are too general and need to be more tailored to women’s specific needs.

Making it work


Our research indicates that company diversity initiatives are not working. So, business leaders and managers must do a better job of factoring women’s actual aspirations into the development of these initiatives. A good start would be to try to understand the specific reasons behind female employees’ lower aspirations, especially in male-dominated environments.

Although we were not able to test an explanation for the aspiration gap, we believe that it may have to do with the process of “self-stereotyping”. This is when individuals internalise gender stereotypes, voluntarily conforming to gender norms. For women, this can mean internalising a more communal stereotype, which leads them to view themselves as less similar to a leader. Unsurprisingly, such women do not tend to aspire to leadership positions. Men, on the other hand, may internalise the masculine “agentic” stereotype, which makes them think they can have greater control over themselves and others – this also aligns with the stereotypical idea people often have of leaders.

Of course, other explanations are possible. This could include women having more negative experiences in the workplace such as bias and discrimination, which puts them off aspiring to leadership roles. It is also possible that women are concerned that accepting a leadership position and the responsibility that comes might negatively affect their family lives. For example, women often hold more power when it comes to decision making at home – so much so, that they have less interest in gaining workplace power.

Any attempt to bolster women should start with specific and targeted interventions such as developing mentorship schemes or highlighting role models. Organisations should also focus on women who exhibit leadership potential early in their careers and provide them with useful resources and support to progress upwards through the organisation. Our results suggest that interventions aimed at increasing women’s leadership aspirations should ideally occur before or during college. Women at this stage in their careers might especially benefit from having the opportunity to see and interact with women that already occupy leadership roles.

It is possible to create gender diversity initiatives that will do more to increase the number of women reaching the upper echelons of business. And making space for more women to move into leadership positions is not only fair, it could also have a positive impact on company performance.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
El Salvador's Bitcoin Holdings Reach $350 Million
Teens Forming Friendships with AI Chatbots
WhatsApp Rolls Out Major Redesign
Neuralink's First Brain Implant Experiences Issue
Apple Unveils New iPad Pro with M4 Chip, Misleading AI Claims
OpenAI to Announce Google Search Competitor
Apple Apologizes for Controversial iPad Pro Ad Featuring Instrument Destruction
German politician of the AFD party, Marie-Thérèse Kaiser was just convicted & fined $6,000+
Changpeng Zhao Sentenced to Four Months in Jail
Biden Administration to Relax Marijuana Regulations
101-Year-Old Woman Mistaken for a Baby by American Airlines: Comical Mix-Up during Flight Check-in
King Charles and Camilla enjoying the Inuit voice singing performance in Canada.
New Study: Vaping May Lower Fertility in Women Trying to Get Pregnant
U.S. DOJ Seeks Three-Year Sentence for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao
Headlines - Thursday, 23 April 2024
Illinois Woman Wins $45M Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson and Kenvue for Mesothelioma Linked to Baby Powder
Panama's lates news for Friday, April 19
Creative menu of a Pizza restaurant..
You can be a very successful player, but a player with character is another level!
Experience the Future of Dining: My Visit to an AI-Powered Burger Joint
Stabbing rampage terror attack in Sydney, at least four people killed, early reports that a baby was among those stabbed.
Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight. Israel Reports Light Damage After Iran Launches Large Strike.
I will never get enough of his videos and the pure joy and beauty of these women!!
Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed an "invisibility cloak", for AI using adversarial patterns on a sweater, making the wearer nearly undetectable to standard object detection methods.
Lamborghini Bids Farewell to Its Best-Selling Sports Car: The Huracán
Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals 25-Year Prison Sentence for $8bn FTX Fraud
OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star who was acquitted of murder, dies aged 76
British Backpacker Imprisoned in Notorious Bolivian Prison: Family Raises Funds for Legal Fight and Essentials
Argentina: Venezuela Cuts Power to Embassy after Opposition Meeting
El Salvador Offers 5,000 Passports to Skilled Foreign Workers: Tax-Free Relocation and Citizenship
Panama Papers Trial Begins: Founders of Mossack Fonseca Face Money-Laundering Charges
75 Becomes the New 65: Retiring in Your 60s Unrealistic as Life Expectancy Increases and Costs Rise
Total Solar Eclipse of 2021: 32 Million Witness the Mystical, $1.5bn Spectacle Sweep Across North America
New shopping experience…
New world, new reality, let’s get used to it
UK Company Passes Milestone in Developing Space-Based Solar Power, Aiming to Power a Million Homes and Provide Constant Energy
Mexico Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador after Police Storm Embassy, Arrest Former Vice President
Monty Python were so ahead of their time
If there's a will, there's a way!
Rules about how to dress are important, but not so much if you have a lot of money.
Body Armor Firm Showcases Stab-Proof Vest in Demo on CEO
Mexico Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador After Embassy Stormed in Quito
Here is a tattoo idea, for engineers
Zoraya Ter Beek, a 28-year-old woman from the Netherlands, will undergo euthanasia in May due to severe mental health challenges
Here's a video featuring Fidel Castro, where he discusses his stance against war and his commitment to preserving life, positions that have put him at odds with the USA:
Woman reaches behind and steals gun from a security guard and shoots three people while getting detained in Chile
Take a walk around the safe and thriving downtown San Salvador.
Joe Biden criticised by Trump campaign for declaring Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday
Macron says France will help Brazil develop nuclear-powered submarines
A video demonstrating women's self defense class in 1930
×