The Myth of the Ideal Worker

posted December 8th, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

In October 2011, Catalyst released a report “The Myth of the Ideal Worker:Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? You can find the full report by following this link


The press release which was distributed when the report was published included the following statements:


“This study busts the myth that ‘Women don’t ask.’ In fact, they do! But it doesn’t get them very far. Men, by contrast, don’t have to ask. What’s wrong with this picture? said Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO, Catalyst.”


I was struck by the following:


“Regardless of chosen career strategy, the study shows that men outpace woman in rate of advancement and compensation growth. Key findings include:

Women seem to be paid for proven performance – women who changed jobs two or more times post-MBA earned $53,472 less than woman who rose through the ranks at their first job.

In contrast, men seem to be paid for potential – men who had moved on from their first post-MBA job earned $13,743 more than those who stayed with their first employer.

Across all career profiles, men were more likely to reach senior executive/CEO positions than women; in the most proactive category, 21% of men advanced to leadership compared with 11% of women.


The report effectively explodes persistent gender gap myths that continue to hold women back:


Women DO ‘ask’, but asking doesn’t close the gender pay or position gap.


Women are not seeking out slower career tracks.


The same strategies don’t work equally well for men and women.”


Although, some of these findings are depressing in terms of highlighting the lack of progress in the advancement of women, I find the dispelling of the myths suggesting women are doing something “wrong” or are to blame for their lack of progress heartening.


I don’t believe there is a simple answer to the challenge of ensuring talented women make the climb to the top of any organization, however, I am pleased to see findings which provide concrete evidence which reinforces the notion that women and female attributes or choices are not the reason for the lack of progress of women. The challenges women face in the work force are real and the answer lies not in fixing the women but fixing organizations to allow all talented individuals, men and women to rise to the top and reach their full potential.


I would love to hear what you think. Please share your comments in the Comments section below.



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