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Study: Men less concerned with women's advancement

Tuesday, May 21, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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Attitudes about advancing women to senior leadership roles are still polarized along gender lines -- and male senior executives appear to be the least concerned about increasing the number of women in the top ranks, according to a new study by The Conference Board of Canada.

Nearly 90 percent of women believe a glass ceiling exists, according to "Women in Leadership: Perceptions and Priorities for Change,” based on a survey of 876 men and women and interviews with 29 women at the c-suite and emerging leader levels.

Nearly 70 percent of women managers believe in the persistence of the "old boys’ club,” compared to 43 percent of men.

A large majority of women managers (68 percent) believe organizations should increase the number of women in senior management, while only 43 percent of male managers feel the same way. Among senior executives, 90 percent of women surveyed believe organizations should increase the number women leaders; only 42 percent of senior executive agreed.

"Gender diversity in senior management is a strategic and cultural issue within organizations. Our research shows that barriers to women’s advancement exist throughout organizations, but the responsibility starts at the very top ― with the board of directors and the existing senior management,” said Ian Cullwick, vice president, leadership and human resources for The Conference Board of Canada. "It will take more than neutrality on the part of senior male executives to bring about significant improvement in the advancement of women within organizations."

Among female respondents, women at upper levels of management indicate they have the same level of ambition to reach the c-suite as their male counterparts, while those in first-level management positions are less ambitious to reach the top of the ladder.

Compared to men, women are less likely to feel they can obtain line management responsibilities, creating an experience gap at the earliest stages of their management careers, according to the study.

Women also face challenges in finding adequate mentorship. Many women are finding themselves looking outside of their organizations for mentors at senior levels of leadership.

"To advance, women need not just mentors, but sponsors – senior leaders who can advocate for them and help to open up career opportunities, often in an informal way,” said study co-author Donna Burnett-Vachon, associate director, leadership and human resources for The Conference Board of Canada. "However, women are less likely than men to have sponsors as they work their way up the ranks. Paradoxically, we may need more female leaders before we can increase the number of women in senior management.”

Both women and men believe that leadership development and human resource management programs were not serving their intended purposes ― identifying and developing the next generation of leadership candidates.

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