Research Says Women Don't Actually Want to Be Promoted

Sacha Strebe

There are plenty of reasons women aren't in leadership positions: They battle gender stereotypes in the workplace, they are less self-assured than men, and the debate rages on about whether women can manage a family and a career at the same time. Well, new research out of the Harvard Business School found the main reason women aren't getting promoted is because they just don’t want the jobs as much as men do. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that “compared to men, women view professional advancement as equally attainable, but less desirable.” Rather, women associate power with stress, burden, and conflicts. It's not because the women surveyed couldn't get the leadership roles either. In fact, there was no doubt they could “realistically attain” the same success as their male counterparts, but it was just lower on their list of priorities; “they have more life goals than men do.”

Assistant professor Alison Wood Brooks summed up the research results perfectly: “You want to be an amazing employee. You want to be an excellent leader at work. But you may also want to dress well. And make sure your children are fed. And that the nanny got to the house in time for you to leave for work. And remember to check in with your close friends. And find time to jog three times a week. And so on. Even in the most progressive, gender-balanced households, on average, women seem to think about a greater diversity of pursuits.”

To read more about this research, visit Harvard Business School.

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Do you agree with this research? Are women less interested in attaining power than men? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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