Female and Male Executives Have Similar Career Aspirations

June 24, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com)-Women and men have equal aspirations to reach the corner office, and women with children living with them are just as likely to aspire to the CEO job as those without, according to a new study released by Catalyst, a research and advisory organization working to expand opportunities for women at work.

The study, Women and Men in U.S. Corporate Leadership: Same Workplace, Different Realities?, is sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and the survey showed many similarities between male and female executives, including that women and men employ the same advancement strategies, such as:

  • consistently exceeding performance expectations
  • successfully managing others
  • seeking high-visibility assignments
  • demonstrating expertise.

Men and women also have experienced similar barriers in their quest for the top:

  • displaying a behavioral style that is different than an organization’s norm
  • lack of significant general management or line experience
  • lack of awareness of organizational politics

The difference between the sexes occurs because women report that they must tolerate cultural barriers to their advancement that are not endured by men, including:

  • gender-based stereotypes
  • exclusion from informal networks
  • lack of role models
  • an inhospitable corporate culture

“Career women have been concerned about the recent attention given to a small group of women choosing to opt out of high-performing careers,” said Catalyst President Ilene Lang, in a news release. “Our latest research findings shed light on that debate, and show that, while the glass ceiling is yet to be shattered, women and men share equal ambitions and similar strategies.”

Additionally, the survey also found that 51% of women and 43% of men report difficulty in achieving a balance between work and personal lives. Both sexes, the survey reports, desire a variety of informal or formal flexible work arrangements. Again though, there is a difference in the sexes in house they attempt to achieve that balance between work and personal lives, including that women have traditionally made more trade-offs between work and personal lives.

“It is important to recognize that not only do women have their sights set on the corner office, but they have high levels of career satisfaction,” said Paulette Gerkovich, Senior Director, Research, Catalyst. “Despite the trade-offs they have made, a large majority of both women and men report comfort with their choices. In terms of work satisfaction, 75% or more of both genders are satisfied with their current positions, their employers, and the respect with which they are treated by company leadership.”

Catalyst’s report compiles the results an analysis of findings based on data from surveys completed by 705 senior-level women and 243 senior-level men, conducted during the summer and fall of 2002 with an analysis of in-depth, qualitative interviews conducted with 20 women and 13 men during the summer of 2003.