Women in the Workplace
Insights from 5 years of research
The broken rung:
Women are overlooked early and never catch up
Conventional wisdom says women hit a “glass ceiling” that prevents them from reaching senior leadership positions. But in reality, inequities in hiring and promotions start much earlier, at the first critical step up to manager. For every 100 entry-level men promoted to manager-level roles, only 72 women are promoted—despite the fact that women and men ask for promotions at similar rates. This “broken rung” leads to an ever-widening gap: although women make up almost half of the entry-level workforce, they hold only about a third of manager-level roles and less than a quarter of C-suite positions.
“I sit on our promotion committee. One thing I see is that when women are given more scope and responsibility, and then they deliver success, it takes six months to a year for them to be recognized. Whereas when men get a new responsibility, I’ve seen them immediately get promoted or get recognized.”
Women with intersectional identities face more barriers and get less support
Many women face compounding biases because of their identity, background, or beliefs. Year after year, our research shows that women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, and women with disabilities are having distinct—and by and large worse—experiences compared to women overall. This is particularly true for Black women and women with disabilities, who are frequently overlooked and undervalued.
“I don’t feel I have the same opportunities as others. If you look like the people making the decisions, it’s easier to advance. And I don’t look like any of the people making decisions here.”
Women face daily bias and microaggressions at work
Seventy-three percent of women report experiencing day-to-day inequities, discrimination, and bias at work. These experiences often take the form of microaggressions, such as when someone questions a woman’s judgement, interrupts her in a meeting, or mistakenly assumes that she’s a junior employee. Although microaggressions may seem small when dealt with one by one—hence their name—they add up. Women who experience microaggressions view their workplaces as less fair, and are three times more likely to regularly think about leaving their job than women who don’t.
“I was in the elevator and pressed the button for the executive office. Someone said to me, ‘Um, no honey. That’s for the executive offices. The interns are going to this floor.’”