Men and Women perceive different barriers to reach the top, shouldn’t we understand why?
I read this interesting post in HBR’s blog: “Stop Asking Women Why They Haven’t Gotten Ahead” by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox (20-First CEO). It’s about different perceptions men and women have regarding the obstacles to better gender balance.
Through kind of qualitative exercise author shows the Top 3 obstacles to better gender balance are quite different by gender:
- For men: Management mindset, leadership criteria, and career management processes
- For women: Self-criticism, lack of confidence and self-selection out of promotion pools
I found meaningful that men’s barriers look more system/organizational ones than women’s ones (more individual).
She also mentioned “The difference between analyses is crucial. Both men and women need to learn that we may not perceive the same story, that we may not be right in our perceptions and that this gap helps us understand why so many “empowering women” initiatives have failed. We are usually asking the wrong people (only women) the wrong questions (“what do women want?”).”
Although you may have concerns about the limitation of this example, previous researches already pointed in the same direction. Below you can find a summary presentation (in which dubitare participated) “ICT workplaces: Cultures of Innovation & Gender “ that already recognized that. It was presented at International Conference: “Women and ICTs through the lifecycle”
It was done just before the crisis (2007) in multinationals in the ICT industry (Cisco, Oracle, Telefonica, Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft…) as well Small Medium Enterprises (SME). Although there are interesting findings here about work life balance policies, innovation and gender links…etc. I would like to point your attention to slide 7 (with a quantitative view complementing the qualitative one mentioned in the article) on the differences in men’s vs women’s perceptions about women’s top barriers to leadership positions:
- Women say top barrier is work-family balance (44%) while only 13,3% of men recognize the same.
- 40% of men say there is no barrier while only 16% of women say there is no barrier…
- For men Top detected barrier is critical mass (33.3%) while for women only 8% say this is a top barrier.
In summary, men and women don’t agree on barriers and obstacles. Why?… it’s time for discussion and integrate both views if we want to make a difference.Note: To know more, research was framed in “Gender and TIC” research program, linked to Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) at Universidad Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and created by Cecilia Castaño Collado. Results would be later discussed in the book “Genero y TIC, presencia, posición y políticas” under “Socidad Red” collection directed by Manuel Castells.