Female Managers Aim Lower on Corporate Ladder

February 29, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - Female managers do not lack desire to advance in their careers, but a Hudson survey found their sights are aimed lower than those of their male counterparts.

A Hudson news release said their study found the vast majority of women middle managers aspire to senior management positions. Asked whether they would like to reach the executive level or higher, 77% of the female study participants said they would.

However, male managers tend to aim higher than their female counterparts. With 82% of male managers saying they aimed higher, 33% listed executive suite jobs (CEO, CFO, etc.), while only 22% of the women wanting to advance set their sights on those jobs. The most frequent response of women was director with 23% aiming for that position, compared to 11% of men. The most frequent response of men was vice president.

Being married or having children does not get in the way of women aspiring to top positions, Hudson found. In fact, more aspirers (69%) are married than decliners (61%), and slightly more aspirers (63%) have children than decliners (59%). Hudson labeled women who do not aspire to senior-level jobs as decliners.

In addition, the Hudson research found that of the areas women consider important for career development, employers do poorly in three: mentoring programs, working with senior management, and flexible hours.

“By bolstering these opportunities, companies could differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage,” Hudson researchers wrote. “Smart companies also will pay attention to the needs of decliners – female managers who may be strong performers but who do not aspire to the top tier of management. By offering them intellectual stimulation and work-life balance, employers can increase job satisfaction and retain these important contributors to the organization’s success.”

Hudson conducted its detailed Web-based study of more than 200 U.S. female mid-level managers in fall 2007. Supplementing this research, a Web-based survey was administered to more than 200 male middle managers and interviews were conducted with a dozen female middle managers and senior executives.

The Hudson report is available here . Additional related research is here .