As career women, we question how we fit in and what we can do to improve our position in the world we work in. Do we risk missing out on better jobs because of our gender? Would it improve our position to rather be a Dave than a Mary?
Women graduating from business get fewer early job offers
Data from Bloomberg Businessweek (2014) reveals that there is a small, but significant difference in the numbers of early job offers between the business graduates. Some industries show an advantage towards men, even in fields that are known to mainly attract women. This involves job offers for non-profit organisations for example, which a woman is three times more likely to pursue than a man.
Women are relatively new to the world of business. Unfortunately, this also means that we will need to fight a few battles to get accepted, since people tend to struggle with change. We are still completely outnumbered in leadership positions, but it is moving forwards – slowly.
A study conducted in 2012 by the University of California-Irvine concluded that the problem might have to do with networking. People tend to associate with people of their own gender, building their network from this. While women are trying to fight this tendency and have 50 percent of their network consisting of men, men will include very few women in theirs.
Dave is more likely to be promoted than Mary
The Harvard Business Review (2010) looked into how your gender might affect your chances of a promotion. What they found was that on being mentored at work, women are actually in favour over the men. Still, men seem to be advancing both faster and further in many areas. The studies found that although women received more mentoring, it did not give the same career benefits to both genders. Women received a lot of mentoring, but a follow up survey concluded that men still received 15 percent more promotions.
The difference in sponsorship
The benefits enjoyed by men during mentoring were significantly higher than the ones enjoyed by women. The difference was found in what the sponsorship involved and if they received active advice on how to advance further. While women would report on how the mentorship helped her understand herself, men were more likely to be mentored on how to plan their moves and receiving direct advice on how to better take charge and expanding their network.
What it all boils down to is that women are still perceived as more risky investments than men. Providing them with sponsorships and networking is also a cost, so companies will sometimes favour men as more secure candidates for the sponsorship. This again, will often lead to a promotion and women are left behind.
Men-dominated fields tend to hire the Marys
On the other hand, this does not apply for all of the fields of business. The jobs which tend to draw a higher number of men as applicants, will in fact favour women. This includes the fields of technology and insurance, areas which are known to be popular among male applicants. In other fields as well, where men are the dominating group, women might even out-earn the men. Fields of construction, painters and mechanics will all favour women over men.
With this being said, it is clear that both sexes are favoured when they are in the minority. Female construction workers are likely to be highly skilled and concentrated in union-jobs. At the same time, research shows that in a few gender-balanced jobs, women will get paid more than men. As a bartender, you might make 111 percent more than a man.
Dave does in fact still have some advantages over Mary in the workplace. However, it is important to remember that some of the differences are affected by other circumstances. Equality in the workplace women enjoy a much stronger position today than before. Men must acknowledge the advantage they still often have in the workplace, include more women in their networking and reach out.
Written by Marte Klausen