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Women believe parenting provides workplace edge

Monday, June 25, 2012  
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More than nine out of 10 women professionals believe raising children has provided them with unique skills that transfer to the workplace, according to a recent survey by Korn/Ferry Institute.

Parenthood has taught women learn to motivate and inspire others, made them more agile -- giving them the ability to apply past experience in new ways -- and boosted their confidence, according to results of a May 2012 survey of women corporate executives globally registered with the Korn/Ferry’s online Executive Center.

"The findings show that parenthood offers a world of training in psychology, time management and diplomacy that can easily be applied to business,” said Kathy Woods, senior partner at Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting. "And, technology is making it easier than ever for women to hold the dual roles of executive and parent.”

Indeed, nearly 80 percent of working women believe technology has made it much easier to balance work and family by connecting them to the workplace whenever and wherever they are.

Still, almost half of the executives surveyed (45 percent) believe their career-growth prospects have been stymied "somewhat” by having children. Another eight percent believe that motherhood has limited their career progression to a "great extent.”Almost three in 10 of the respondents said they have either postponed (19 percent) or decided not to have children (10 percent) based on their careers.

Respondents were evenly split on whether a "glass ceiling” that limits their career progression still exists. Twenty-seven percent said yes; 23 percent said no; and 50 percent said "maybe,” depending on the company or industry.

Women hold fewer than 15 percent of corporate executive positions at organizations globally, according to Korn/Ferry data. What’s more, a pay gap still exists across all levels of leadership, even among senior management posts with women earning 25 percent less than their male counterparts in the c-suite.

Such disparities re
main, even though women executives often possess unique and difficult-to-develop attributes. According to past Korn/Ferry research, these women tend to excel more than their male counterparts at being integrative (able to process complex social information and inspire others), socially attuned (able to perceive subtle signals) and comfortable with ambiguity (able to "wing it” and make "good-enough-for-now” decisions until more data are available).

Looking ahead, however, most of the women (86 percent) believe females graduating from college in 2025 will have more career-advancement opportunities than today’s working mothers.

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