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your boss know you’re ready for that challenging assignment. Make your ca- reer ambitions and willingness to put in the requisite time and effort clear. Don’t just build a relationship with your boss; make sure to build one with your boss’ boss as well. Sounds like good advice. But accord- ing to Catalyst, a leading research and ad- visory organization, in their latest report, The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Do- ing All the Right Things Really Get Wom- en Ahead?, men benefit from these strate- gies far more than women. In fact, this report, which studied high

career C

potentials in the executive pipeline, re- veals that while “doing all the right things” to get ahead works well for men, being proactive did not provide as great an advantage for women.


Myths About Why Women’s Careers Lag Behind Men’s

ommon wisdom about advancing in the workplace is straightforward: let

“This study busts the myth that ‘Wom-

en don’t ask.’ In fact, they do! But it doesn’t get them very far. Men, by con- trast, don’t have to ask. What’s wrong with this picture?” said Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO, Catalyst.

According to the report, which studied commonly used career strategies,


strategies adopted by high-potential wom- en had little bearing on the rate at which they advanced to leadership. Conversely, men who applied the most proactive ca- reer strategies advanced further than other men.

Regardless of chosen career strategy, the study shows that men outpace women in rate of advancement and compensation growth—starting with a $4,600 gap in their first post-MBA jobs which widens to $31,258 mid-career, according to Cata- lyst’s 2008 survey. 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 women 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 persis- tent gender gap myths that continue to hold women back: Women DO “ask,” but asking doesn’t close the gender pay or position gap. Af- ter their first post-MBA jobs, there were no gender differences in whether or not high potentials


jobs, our research shows that women’s compensation growth was faster when they remained with the same employer, where they had proven performance, than when they started with a new employer, who paid based on potential. Women are not seeking out slower ca-

reer tracks. According to the study find- ings, women are less satisfied than men with their career growth. If women were intentionally seeking slower tracks, we would expect them to be as satisfied as men despite their slower advancement. The same strategies don’t work equally well for men and women. Women must adopt strategies different from their male colleagues’ to advance their careers. When women were proactive in making their achievements known, they advanced further, increased their compensation growth, and were more satisfied with their careers. They also advanced further when they proactively networked with influen- tial others. Making their achievements known did not impact men’s careers. Rather, gaining access to influential oth- ers also helped men advance, and indicat- ing a willingness to work long hours and conducting external scans for other op- portunities helped men increase their sala- ries.

Catalyst suggests that corporate lead- for greater

compensation (63% of women vs. 54% of men) or for a higher position when begin- ning their current job (19% of women vs. 17% of men). Even though these women negotiate for more when they change


ers ask: To what extent are employees in our organizations advanced and compen- sated based on strategic career tactics ver- sus skills and performance? How are peo- ple being coached to get ahead? Are assumptions being made that what worked for men in the past will work for women? And when women and men apply the same career strategies, are they being re- acted to and evaluated differently? According to Ms. Lang, “Just as indi- viduals need to manage their careers ef- fectively or risk lagging behind their peers, organizations must learn how to at- tract, develop, and retain high-potential women—or risk losing out to their com- petitors.” Source: Catalyst


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