What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

Nothing gets resolved. The result increases polarization, self-righteousness, suspicion and over-protective behavior while doing very little to increase the self-image and positive outlook among women and minorities. (Ely, et al., 2006, p. 30)

After surveying 286 male and female executives, Carlson, Kacmar, and Whitton (2006) found that only 31.7% of men thought women had to be exceptional to succeed, while 69.4% of women felt that way. These women executives said they still encounter barriers to success. Either the men didn’t see the barriers or they gave the politically correct response. Yet, with women still holding less than 20% of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies with only 8 of those positions being CEO, the researchers concluded that “Executive men may be saying the right words, but if the gender composition of the typical boardroom is any indication, they’re probably not behaving accordingly.” (p. 140)

In 1991, senior executives at Deloitte & Touche found that only four of 50 candidates for partner were women, even though they had been heavily recruiting women from colleges and business schools since 1980. (McCracken, 2000) It wasn’t that the women weren’t qualified, but that they were leaving the firm at a significantly greater rate than men before they could be considered for partner. When interviewed about the findings, most of the executives didn’t see the statistics as a problem, assuming women were leaving to stay home with their children and there was nothing they could do about it. (p. 160) However, the CEO at the time, Mike Cook, decided the high turnover of women was an urgent problem that needed to be fixed.


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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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