Ridiculous question #434 - Do women even want the top jobs?


This is one of the most commonly questions I get when speaking about gender equality- most often by men, but normally by people who assume that women who ‘want top jobs’ behave the same way as men who want top jobs. But for most women I know, the politicking, the self-promotion, the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ mentality doesn’t fit. How do we know women want top jobs? Because they spend their time focused on getting their jobs done often to the detriment of the politicking etc. Plus research by Boston Consulting Group shows women have ambition that equals men, but how that gets fostered depends on company culture. Similarly, other research from Centre for Talent Innovation has found ethnic minority women are actually more ambitious than white women. But no matter the research, it's dismaying so many people believe that women simply don't want to be in leadership positions.  So if you find yourself in the middle of this debate, here’s two ways to answer that question:
  1. Yes, women are JUST AS ambitious as men, but unfortunately women are half as likely to think that's it's going to happen for them based on the cultures in which they work.
  2. The better question to address is: ‘Why aren't they getting them?’ and to that point ‘What can I do about that?’