A while ago I sent a colleague who is a strong critical thinker our new research on gender dynamics that constrict talent pipelines. The findings motivated him to rethink some of their talent development strategies. In addition, he sent along this question.
Of course I had thoughts and in a few minutes waiting for a meeting, here are the reasons I came up with."I’m curious why female business and MBA grads don’t fare as well as male business and MBA grads. Both graduate with similar education and training. Any thoughts?"
- Women with MBAs tend to do better than women without, so the MBA does represent an advantage. Of the 19 F500 women CEOs I've studied at least 6 have MBAs, 3 have other masters and one has her J.D. (don't have info about all the others)
- Stereotypes still come into play - negative stereotypes about women and business, positive stereotypes about men and business, stereotypes beneath assumptions about women who are mothers, women take care - men take charge, etc.
- Henry Mintzberg argues (and I agree with him) that many MBA programs create financial analysts for Wall Street and not business leaders. So the making of business leaders is left to informal mentoring/sponsorship relationships that women have less access to (see #4, 7 & 8).
- Some men in business leadership positions are uncomfortable mentoring women.
- Women opt off the career track for many reasons.
- Women aren't considered for operations leadership positions.
- Women don't choose to go into operations - stay in staff functions.
- Women don't ask for advancement - wait to be rewarded
- Men don't ask women their career aspirations.
- Having business acumen through an MBA program doesn't mean women know how to demonstrate it (or that they will be in positions to - see 6 & 7 above).
- Women leave for better jobs in other companies because their efforts don't get them ahead.
- Most mentoring programs focus on the creation of a trusting relationship and good manners (follow through on commitments, be on time) instead of how to use a mentoring relationship to develop a deeper understanding of the business, how decisions are made at higher levels, etc.
Do you have others to offer?
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.
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