What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

In fact, these days the economics of family obligations force women to stay in jobs for the money instead of leave them, and many stay even when they no longer care about the work. (Morison, et al., 2006) Since there is still a bottleneck to the top positions, they are stuck in middle management positions, feeling burned out, disillusioned, anxious and bored. (p 80-81) Due to the economics of raising children and elder-care, whether they are married or not, they either stay in their positions or if they are courageous, they practice job hopping for stimulation.

Currently, most women in the US describe their careers as “nonlinear.” (Hewlett, et al., 2005) For men, the traditional career trajectory sees a steep gradient in one’s 30s then a flattening out thereafter. In other words, once they find their “home,” they stick around to climb the corporate ladder and then settle in wherever the ladder stops. The average career pattern for women looks very different.

Women are more inclined than men to switch industries as well as jobs, start their own businesses, define new roles and jobs for themselves within a company and sometimes, they do a complete job “makeover” along the way, making the path look like a zigzag both horizontally and vertically. Their workplace wish lists rarely state “being promoted” as a prime motivator. Instead, they look for “the ability to associate with people I respect (82%), freedom to be myself at work (79%), the opportunity to be flexible with my schedule (64%), the opportunity to collaborate with others and work as a part of a team (61%), the opportunity to give back to the community through my work (56%) and recognition from my company (51%).” (p. 49)

In the U.S., many of the women who leave their jobs start their own companies. Growth in the number of women-owned businesses has significantly outpaced that of overall businesses. (Center for Women’s Business Research, 2004) In 2004, 48% of all privately held U.S. businesses were women-owned. The fastest growing sectors include traditionally male-owned companies such as construction, transportation and agricultural services. Some career experts believe the exodus will only intensify as young businesswomen describe corporations as places to hone skills, but not to make long term careers. (Delaney, 2003)


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About the Author

Marcia Reynolds

Marcia ReynoldsIn addition to coaching leaders in global companies, Dr. Marcia Reynolds travels the world speaking and teaching classes in advanced coaching skills, leadership and emotional intelligence. She is the author of 3 books and has been quoted in major online and print publications in the US and Europe.

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