As it is International Women’s Day – and never one to shirk controversy, I thought this may be an apt post for today. It was prompted by some interesting research I came across from one or our business education clients which suggests that women are under represented in high paying jobs not because of discrimination – but because they are not applying for them.
Professor Roxana Barbulescu, of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, says “Women are taking themselves out of the running for certain jobs. When they evaluate different possible career tracks they already have the assumption that their applications may be unsuccessful. This is combined with a preference for jobs with better work-life balances and a lack of identity with more stereotypically masculine jobs, such as you may find in the finance industry. In a sense they pre-empt what they think the employers’ decision will be, and opt-out first. ”
This set me thinking and I have to say that at least in part this makes sense. Back in the dark ages when I was Group Comms Manager at Balfour Beatty, I decided to leave when I had my first child – not because I wasn’t ambitious – but because with a baby I couldn’t drop everything and jet off to one of our international sites – something I had to do on a regular basis. I chose to make my mark by freelancing and then eventually starting a business. So perhaps some of the imbalance is due to the fact that if women have families – they actually want to spend some time with them. Additionally some research we did amongst female lawyers a few years ago showed that it was women without children who felt discriminated against – not by men – but by women who had children! Interesting.
So what do you think – are there less women in top jobs because of discrimination – or because women are not applying for them? And if they are not applying for them is that because of discrimination – or because they don’t want to ? And if they are not applying simply because they feel that they wont be successful – do they need to perhaps ‘man up’ ? I certainly don’t have the answers – what’s your view?