Career 01 May 2017
It's not news that the percentage of women taking over the C-suite in America is crawling along. A vast majority of women and men concur that gender does not play a role in one's ability to lead a business. But there's one glaring reason that that simply is not the case, and it's the burden of biology.
Which baby do you nurture?
Men simply are not burdened by this dilemma. Women, on the other hand, conceive, carry and give birth to children. Women's reproductive window slams shut at the most crucial productive years for building a career. Not to say that women cannot have both – rewarding careers and children – just that, at the ages between mid-twenties and early-forties, it is very difficult to be simultaneously career-focused and successful at child-rearing.
Men working tirelessly on their career aspirations have their partner's unquestioned support. Maybe the day will arrive when scientists figure out a way to safely and effectively freeze eggs so that they are as good as sperm, made fresh on a daily basis. Until then, the great neutralizer of women and men being able to compete on a level playing field will remain on hold. Understandably, few women are reaching the upper echelons of corporate leadership.
Reaching the elusive pinnacle
Few women ascend to the top. Approximately only 25 companies in the Fortune 500 are run by women. 20 years ago, there were no female CEOs in the Fortune 500. Since then, women have only made slight progress in obtaining those authoritative roles.
The low number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 may be due to gender stereotypes that pervade the workplace.
Pew's survey found that 34% of the respondents believed that male executives are better than women at assessing risk. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, a significant portion thought that men would do a better job at leading technology, finance, oil and gas companies. Approximately four in ten Americans point to a double standard for women seeking to climb to the highest levels of politics or business, where they must do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves.
Perceptions in political leadership...
Women are also more likely than men to say that female leaders in both politics and business outperform male leaders on most of the characteristics tested in the survey. The gender gaps in perceptions about political leadership are especially apparent. On traits like compromise, honesty, backbone, persuasion or working for the benefit of all Americans, women are more likely than men to say female leaders do a better job.
A solid majority of men state there aren't major differences between men and women in these areas. Nonetheless, they are somewhat more likely than women to give a nod to male leaders over female leaders on four of the five political leadership qualities tested in the poll.
Perhaps the answer lies in the gradual realization that equality is our destiny, and that corporate America has to come up with a viable solution that allows 50% of its talent pool to compete for 50% of its leadership positions – a strategy that would substantially improve our position in the global economy.
Did You Know?
- Male CEOs receive an average of $4,438,366.90 more in company compensation than female CEOs do.
- On average, women had more positions prior to their current role - 11 for women and 9 for men.
- Only 54 female CEOs feature in the top 1,000 highest-earning US companies in 2017. In 2014, there were 51 - that's a measly increase of three more female CEOs in three years.
- There are only three female CEOs in the top 50: Mary Barra (General Motors), Indra K. Nooyi (PepsiCo), and Virginia Rometty (IBM).
- Both male and female CEOs obtained their current executive position at the average age of 51.
- The top 54 companies run by male CEOs rank 480 places higher on average than those run by women - 29 for men, compared to 509 for women.
- Both genders had a heavy representation of MBA degrees, with 25 of the women and 21 of the men holding one. Outside of MBAs, engineering degrees were the most popular - 10 women touted them, and 13 men did.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist