Rechercher
  • R.J. Ely, I. Padavic

What’s Really Holding Women Back?


Women made remarkable progress accessing positions of power and authority in the 1970s and 1980s, but that progress slowed considerably in the 1990s and has stalled completely in this century.

In a specific research at a consulting firm, we found that women were held back because, unlike men, they were encouraged to take accommodations, such as going part-time and shifting to internally facing roles, which derailed their careers. The real culprit was a general culture of overwork that hurt both men and women and lock gender inequality in place. Employees who took advantage of accodomodations — virtually all of whom were women —were stigmatized and saw their careers derail.

The upshot for women at the individual level was sacrifices in power, status, and income; at the collective level, it meant the continuation of a pattern in which powerful positions remained the purview of men.

Perversely, in its attempt to solve the problem of women’s stalled advancement, the firm was perpetuating it. For the firm to address its gender problem, it would have to address its long-hours problem. And the way to start would be to stop overselling and overdelivering.

To read the full HBR article, please click here.


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