A new study into the ambition gap — where women report having less interest in taking on senior roles — has found that it only exists because of sexist workplaces.
The study, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, pooled responses from more than 200,000 men and women from nearly 200 countries and across companies, industries, age groups and family statuses.
At the beginning of their careers, the study found that men and women were equally ambitious. Then, between the ages of 30 and 40, a key career-building time, women’s ambition dropped considerably — but only at certain workplaces.
In companies that were reported as not making progress in gender diversity, only 66 percent of women and 83 percent of men aspired to leadership positions. However, in companies that were making gender progress, that number jumped to 85 percent for women and 87 percent of men — practically eliminating the ambition gap.
This study is contrary to the popular belief that women step back from leadership roles because they become mothers. Instead, as many women already know, women are simply responding to the sexist environments in which they work.
The authors of the study explain, “telling women simply to try harder at a game in which the rules are stacked against them may create some fantastic, isolated successes — but it may not lead to a meaningful breakthrough.”
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