What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: IV. The Shifting Female Mindset
Purpose and Objectives of the Study
The numbers of women who reach the highest ranks in corporate America are still appalling. Although they hold half of the management positions, they only hold 16.4% of corporate officer positions. (Catalyst, 2006) The situation is worse in Fortune 500 companies. Only 6% of those who hold titles such as chairman, president, CEO or COO are women. (Eagly & Carli, 2007)
What is to blame for this pronounced lack of women in positions of authority and power? A review of the literature shows that while discrimination is still a factor, women themselves are also to blame for their low numbers in the board room. The literature shows that many high-achieving women jump ship to start their own businesses and families or they job hop for satisfaction as well as meaning. If they stay for the money, they either burn out before reaching the top or lose interest in playing the corporate game.
Unfortunately, the literature primarily places women in either roles of victims or self-saboteurs. Is it possible that the problem has been misdiagnosed, that other factors have emerged keeping high-achieving women out of the C-suite? If so, it is unlikely that corporate leaders can prescribe an effective cure. This seems to be the case when considering how few corporations have programs that are effectively stopping the “brain drain” of women who leave before accepting top management positions.