What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: IV. The Shifting Female Mindset
However, the 1990’s saw active changes in women’s and men’s roles in society with a slow but consistent acceptance of these changes in the workplace. Men are more active with birth and family responsibilities. More women are the breadwinners in households even in those with two incomes. As a result, more career doors are opening for women, corporations are more eager to support women seeking leadership positions and more work cultures are better accommodating of the diverse needs of all people. (McCracken, 2000; Morison, et al., 2006)
Therefore, the professional growth for women in the late 1900’s centered on becoming comfortable and confident in their new roles. Now, in the 2000’s, new themes are arising for women. Popular books focus on “rediscovering the feminine side” so women can couple their natural feminine tendencies with the more active and decisive male tendencies they have learned to use. (Holland, 2000) Workplace cultures are moving to accommodate and actually use the strengths women bring to the table. Recent studies show how the female brain has evolved in the past fifty years, with drastic differences in how women today see and deal with the world when compared with their grandmothers, allowing for different identities as “who I am as a woman.” (Schulz, 2006) Yet little has been done to track the emerging roles, identities and behavioral strategies of women in the workplace, especially in the past twenty years as the numbers of women in management positions steadily grew.
Gersick and Kram (2002) saw this gap and created a study to see if women’s behaviors were changing at work. However, they only interviewed ten executive women from one company between the ages of 35 and 45. Nevertheless, they found some consistent behavioral patterns across the sample of women. All the participants felt that their career tracks were essentially based on fortuitous events instead of planned choices before the age of 25. However, between the ages of 27 and 33, these women became serious about their careers and formulated plans whether they were married or not. The researchers concluded that the existence of new options for women in the workplace had them thinking more about personal fulfillment/identity issues than the traditional conflicts between marriage and work priorities. (p. 109)