Survey Finds That Women Are Taking Initiative at Work, but Gender Prejudices Persist

August 20, 2013

A new survey by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and "Elle" magazine has revealed that many women believe they are taking all the necessary steps to advance their careers. However, both men and women acknowledge that discriminatory roadblocks still exist that prevent women from climbing the corporate ladder as easily as men do.

"Women report they are leaning in and staying forward, and they're seeking raises and promotions," Robbie Myers, "Elle's" editor in chief, told The Daily Beast.

For the survey, 1,200 randomly chosen workers, half male, half female, between ages 25 and 54, were asked about various workplace issues. The poll was taken shortly after the publication of Sheryl Sandberg's book, "Lean In," in which she argued that women do not support each other in the workplace and also do not advocate enough on their own behalf.

The results of the survey seem to refute several of Sandberg's points. For example, more than half of women (51 percent) surveyed said they regularly speak up in meetings, a number that is similar to the 54 percent of men who reported being vocal during meetings. Additionally, 47 percent of women are asking for raises compared to 60 percent of men.

In addition, Sandberg's statement that women should not "leave before [they] leave" (that is, they should not forgo career advancement simply because they anticipate having children) seems to be a credo that women have long abided by: Elle's survey showed that a mere seven percent of women polled reported turning down a promotion or new project due to anticipated motherhood.

With more women taking charge of their careers, why aren't more women leaders in the workplace? Both genders disagreed on the primary reason, "Elle" reported. Forty six percent of male leaders in the workplace said family takes too much of women's time, while 35 percent believed women aren't tough enough and 33 percent stated that women are discriminated against. In contrast, a full fifty-five percent of female leaders in the workplace said discrimination mostly was to blame, while 51 percent believed family responsibilities prevent women from advancing. However, 34 percent of the female leaders polled believe that the paucity of women in top positions at companies is due to their not being tough enough.

"That male and female leaders think women aren't tough enough to lead is deeply disturbing," said Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress. "I was amazed people would even admit it. I think we've hit upon one of the reasons women have plateaued."

Similarly, both genders -- half of men and two-thirds of women -- said women were scrutinized more harshly on the job than men.

"There is more equity between men and women in what they say they want, but both men and women feel women overall aren't judged fairly in terms of our capabilities," Myers told The Daily Beast.

The survey also showed that both men and women workers desire flex time -- nontraditional hours, telecommuting or working at home one day a week, "Elle" pointed out. About 52 percent of respondents said they'd take advantage of offered flex time, and 86 percent of those given the flex time option have used it.

When asked about gender's role in pay, 80 percent of men said they believed they wouldn't earn less money were they female, The Huffington Post noted. Similarly, 70 percent of women said they felt being male wouldn't garner them higher wages.

Compiled by Doresa Banning


"2013 Power Survey,", Aug. 19, 2013

"80 Percent Of Men Say Being A Woman Wouldn't Hurt Their Pay,", Aug. 19, 2013, Catherine Taibi

"Poll: Women Say They Are Leaning In,", Aug. 19, 2013, Eleanor Clift

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