What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

As a result, women not only face subtle obstacles in getting promoted into leadership positions, it is difficult for them to earn praise for the work they do once they are there. It appears that misogyny, in the sense of demeaning and dismissing women and excluding them from positions of power, is alive and well in business as well as in our government. (Regine, et al., 2003, p. 351; Anderson, van Dam, Lievens & Born, 2006, p. 566)

Men are not the only offenders. Mavin (2006) found in her research that there are still many women who expect more feminine behaviors from their female bosses, such as being more nurturing of them in their careers, more rule-bending for personal needs and more forgiving of their mistakes. “When female bosses fail to meet this stereotype, they are blamed for becoming ‘male’ and when they don’t champion women’s issues, they are negatively labeled ‘Queen Bees.’ (p. 13)

In addition, many women executives are not supportive of those climbing behind them. A survey done by a professional women’s network called the Downtown Women’s Club (Danielson, 2007) found harsh opinions and “even thinly veiled hostility” expressed by women who fall into the baby boomer category when speaking about Generation X and Y women. (p. 84) Unfortunately, these women did not see anything wrong with voicing negative opinions about the younger generation of “entitled, impatient and disrespectful” women. However, the younger women who work for them felt the older generation of women posed bigger roadblocks than the older men. They felt that since the older women had to fight for their positions, they expected the younger women to “serve time” before they were promoted even if their performance was exceptional.

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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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