So near and yet so far…New data on why women are less likely to get the top job

As the build up to the US elections reached fever pitch, the topic of women in leadership was never far from the fore. Now that the post result dust is settling, it’s worth reminding ourselves that most organisations still fail to create a supportive culture for women to achieve satisfying careers in corporates around the world.

Here are some key findings useful to note from a study Women in the Workplace 2016 that looks at the state of women in corporate America.

The study is interesting, even though it isn’t Australian, as it’s been conducted as part of a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company to give companies the information they need to promote female leadership and foster gender equality in the workplace.

McKinsey logolean-in-logo



Heavy hitters like that with access to such a wide database/audience will surely have a few good pointers for the rest of the world to think about.

132 companies employing more than 4.6 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. In addition, 34,000 employees completed a survey designed to uncover their attitudes on gender, job satisfaction, ambition, and work-life issues.

So what were their key findings?

Women are negotiating as often as men—but face pushback when they do

Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30% more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are “bossy,” “too aggressive,” or “intimidating.”

Women get less access to senior leaders

Women and men both view sponsorship by senior leaders as essential for success. Yet women report fewer substantive interactions with senior leaders than their male counterparts do—and this gap widens as women and men advance.

Women ask for feedback as often as men—but are less likely to receive it

Despite asking for informal feedback as often as men do, women report they receive it less frequently. Moreover, there appears to be a disconnect in the way managers convey difficult feedback. Most managers say they rarely hesitate to give difficult feedback to both women and men, but women report they receive it less frequently.

Women are less interested in becoming top executives—and see the pros and cons of senior leadership differently

Only 40% of women are interested in becoming top executives, compared to 56% of men. Women and men worry equally about work-life balance and company politics. However, women with and without children are more likely to say they don’t want the pressure, and women who want a top job anticipate a steeper path than men who do.

Read the full report here