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Women are offered fewer career-boosting jobs, Catalyst reports

Wednesday, November 14, 2012  
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Women are assigned fewer high visibility, mission-critical roles and international experiences -- the so-called "hot jobs” -- that are key to getting ahead at global companies, according to a new Catalyst report.

These jobs, rather than formal leadership training, have a greater impact on career advancement, according to "Good Intentions, Imperfect Execution? Women Get Fewer of the Hot Jobs Needed to Advance.” Sixty-two percent of the high-potential women and men surveyed by Catalyst said high-profile assignments that gave them leadership experience had the greatest impact on their careers, while only 10 percent cited formal training programs as having the most impact.

Men reported leading projects with bigger budgets (more than twice the size of women’s) and larger teams (more than three times as many staff) that posed higher risk to the company and had more c-suite visibility. More men reported having roles with critical responsibility for profit and loss (56 percent of men vs. 46 percent of women), management of direct reports (77 percent of men vs. 70 percent of women) and budgets of more than $10 million (30 percent of men vs. 22 percent of women).

What’s more, women are given fewer international assignments, but not because they’re unwilling to relocate, Catalyst found. Of those most willing, more men than women received those assignments (35 percent vs. 26 percent). More women than men were never offered the opportunity (64 percent vs. 55 percent).

More men than women were offered the "hot jobs” after being in formal leadership development programs and more men were promoted within a year of program completion (51 percent of men vs. 37 percent of women).

"Offering critical assignments to high-potential women as part of an intentional strategy can help break through the logjam that blocks advancement for talented women,” said Catalyst President and CEO Ilene H. Lang. "Catalyst studies show women are just as ambitious as men and use the same career advancement strategies, but they don’t get the same payoff. Clearly, access to the ‘hot jobs’ and to senior-level sponsors with clout to create that access can make a dramatic difference in closing the persistent gender gap.”  

"Good Intentions, Imperfect Execution? Women Get Fewer of the Hot Jobs Needed to Advance” is based on research conducted for Catalyst’s longitudinal study "The Promise of Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline.” Between fall 2007 and spring 2010, Catalyst conducted an online survey of alumni who graduated between 1996 and 2007 from MBA programs at 26 leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. Findings for this report are based on the 1,660 respondents who answered follow-up surveys fielded in 2010 and 2011 (1,479 MBA alumni completed the 2010 survey; 914 completed the 2011 survey), which provided additional information on career progression initially collected in 2008.

Complete study

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