Tag Archives: women’s careers

Women’s career choices are all about location, location, location

16 Jul

Women want different things from men when it comes to deciding which employer to work for. While pay and benefits are always crucial in this decision, location is also a huge priority for female candidates.

A survey by Randstad US of 7,000 people found that 44% of women said location was an important employer attribute, compared with 35% of men. More than a third (37%) of women also said workplace flexibility was crucial in their decision, compared with 26% of male respondents. What ranked highly among men was career progression (42%) and a company’s financial health (36%). For women these percentages respectively were 36% and 28%.

Randstad US senior vice president Lisa Crawford said how a company is perceived will affect what candidates it attracts. “Companies may need to focus on key elements, such as building culture and adopting more flexible work policies, to appeal to different demographics. Attracting and retaining talent is not a one-stop shop,” she added.


Is anxiety burning women out?

8 Jun
womaneer rocking chair

Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere (pic: istockphoto.com/pterwort)

There’s a saying that worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere. That’s certainly the case for many women who suffer anxiety, and for whom it gets to the stage where it affects their performance at work.

Anxious female brains work harder than male ones, says research from Michigan State University. In tests, worried women performed the same as men on simple parts of the task – but performed worse on the more difficult parts, suggesting that “worrying got in the way of completing the task”.

Jason Moser, lead investigator on the project, said: “Anxious girls’ brains have to work harder to perform tasks because they have distracting thoughts and worries. As a result, their brains are being kind of burned out by thinking so much.” Continue reading

Career is more important for women than men – but not at the expense of family life

25 Apr

Having a high-paying career or profession has become much more important for women than men, according to findings from the Pew Research Center.

Careers are a high priority for young women today. (pic: istockphoto.com/jacekbieniek

Two-thirds of women aged 18 to 34 who took part in the survey rate career high on their list of priorities, compared with 59% of young men. This has increased since 1997, when 56% of women and 58% of men prioritised their careers. However, the survey clarifies that the surge of interest in a fulfilling career does not come at the expense of a happy home and family life, which ranks “significantly higher” on the list of priorities.

The percentage of working-age women and men who say a successful marriage is in their lives exceeds 80% now, just as it did in 1997. And parenthood is a priority for more than 90% in both years.

However, among women aged 18 to 34, marriage is important for 37% – up nine percentage points from 28% since 1997. Parenting ranks even higher on their list of priorities: 59% of young  women rate parenting as a top priority, up 17 percentage points from 42% in 1997.

The percentage of mothers with children younger than 18 has risen from 47% in 1975 to 71% in 2010, a 24-percentage-point increase. For mothers with children younger than six, the figure is 64%, and for mothers with kids aged six to 17, the figure is 77%.

The report says: “Women in today’s workforce who marry and have children are not necessarily leaving their careers to do so.” Further evidence that women are attempting to have it all…?

Common career strategies benefit men but not women

14 Oct

Doing all the right things to progress your career and being the ideal worker has no impact on a woman’s career – while it benefits their male colleagues, according to a report from Catalyst.

The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All The Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? says that being proactive helps men’s careers but not women’s. Common career strategies analysed in the report include: letting your boss know you’re ready for the next challenging project, putting in the time and effort to realise your ambitions, and building relationships with your boss’s boss as well as your own boss worked brilliantly for men, helping them to get ahead, but it had little impact on the rate at which high-potential women made it to leadership positions.

The report explodes the myth that women don’t ask for pay rises – they do – but asking doesn’t lead to better compensation. Also, women are not seeking out slower career paths, and are in fact less satisfied than men with their career growth.

Ilene H. Lang, president and CEO of Catalyst, said: “This study busts the myth that ‘Women don’t ask.’ In fact, they do! But it doesn’t get them very far. Men, by contrast, don’t have to ask. What’s wrong with this picture?

“Just as individuals need to manage their careers effectively or risk lagging behind their peers, organisations must learn how to attract, develop, and retain high-potential women – or risk losing out to their competitors.”



Women are more competitive than we think – just not against men

26 Sep

Women are just as competitive as men – they just don’t like to compete against them. That’s the finding of new research from Harvard Business School that examines why women are paid less and fill so few top positions.

The study reveals that women don’t innately prefer cooperation to competition, which is often the stereotypical view of women; they just feel pressure not to compete against men.

Controlled experiments examined how men and women respond when they compete in maths and verbal tasks. Both men and women performed better when they were paired with someone from their own gender (except in the verbal task, where the men’s performance wasn’t affected).

Professor Kathleen L McGinn said: “There’s a strongly held assumption that men are competitive and women aren’t, and our results show otherwise. Men and women work together differently when they’re dependent [on each other] versus independent and when they work on stereotypically male or female tasks.”

The researchers will be publishing the full findings in their forthcoming paper The Untold Story of Gender and Incentives, and believe  that their study could be revealing to companies in how they put together their pay schemes, and how they group people in teams to complete tasks.


Women feel more fulfilled with a ‘career’ than a ‘job’

6 Sep

A woman’s attitude to her work influences how fulfilled and respected she feels about herself, according to a study of working mothers in the US. It doesn’t matter whether they’re high-flying executives or junior assistants; if they feel they have a meaningful career then it means more to them than mothers who work just for the money. And it gives them a sense of identity.

I came across the Working Mother Report: What moms think – Career vs Paycheck thanks to an article on Forbes by executive coach Lisa Quast, ‘Career’ versus ‘Job’ – surprising attitudes on how women feel about their work. The survey was carried out by Working Mother Media in conjunction with Ernst & Young, IBM and Procter & Gamble.

What comes across is that working mothers want more than just to bank their wages at the end of the month; they want to feel as though their work as a ‘higher purpose’; hence the satisfaction and fulfilment levels at home and at work of mothers who are career-oriented. They particularly appreciate being able to develop their skills, have support from management, and enjoy respect from peers, colleagues and bosses.

Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, in her introduction to the report said: “The survey findings were nothing short of astonishing. We learned that mothers who view work as a career feel more satisfied, healthy, and fulfilled on almost every measure — on both the work and home front — than moms who say they work for primarily financial reasons… regardless of their salary level. We also learned that in some cases, male managers have a more favourable view of working mothers than the working mothers themselves.”

However, on the negative side, some working mothers feel some bias does exist against them in the workplace, and fear that some managers may question their work commitment when they need to balance the needs of family and work, and often find themselves struggling to get away from work.

Employers may need to weed out that bias and discover its causes. One of those reasons may be making flexibility a working-mother issue. The report said: “When flexibility is positioned as a working-mother issue, it can wreak havoc on employee attitudes. Colleagues may see working mothers as having special status, and feel they are left to pick up the slack.”

I’ve seen that happening in workplaces where people without children feel resentment towards mothers who need to leave early or come in late – so a culture of fairness and flexibility for all may help foster a more inclusive and amenable workplace culture.

Should women use sex appeal to get ahead at work?

30 Aug

Do you use your charms to get ahead at work? (pic credit: Istockphoto)

Does dressing sexily take women further in their careers? Does flaunting the flesh and flirting with the influential men guarantee you riches and promotions? Is your sex appeal the key to power?

It is according to the new book by LSE academic Catherine Hakim, Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital. The sociologist says that those who have ‘erotic capital’ – defined as having beauty, social skills, good dress sense, liveliness, sex appeal and sexual competence – should invest it in their careers and will receive a great return.

She says more attractive people can earn 12% more than their plainer sisters. She outlines in a Daily Mail article how to learn to be sexier – and how attractiveness has an equal effect to education on your income.

It has been fascinating watching the debate unfold over the publication of Dr Hakim’s book. Here are some of my favourites:

My views on erotic capital? I’ve always believed in the old adage that ‘two drops of honey attract more bees than two litres of vinegar’. In other words, being charming will get you further than being frosty, acidic or rude. As will being well groomed and impeccably dressed (yes, with heels and lipstick) – but not being in any way blatant or cheap. For me, professionalism brings its own charisma – and I think that, at a certain level, it’s important to be listened to and respected as a person who is brilliant at my job rather than be gawped at for being a woman.

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