The Lay of the Land: the State of Women Leaders

Faculty - Connie Gersick

This session examines the obstacles that are still keeping women’s talents from being fully utilized and recognized at work and offers research based suggestions for action. By the end of the session, participants will walk away with a concrete game plan to improve opportunities for themselves and others.

After an exercise to surface participants’ strengths and goals, Dr. Gersick presents the lay of the land regarding the progress and challenges faced by women in the work environment. Key points include:

  • Across industries, women are not moving into senior executive positions at a rate commensurate with their increased numbers in middle and upper middle management.
  • Male executives tend to think work-life demands are the main issue regarding women’s lack of advancement whereas women say it is networking and access to senior people.
  • Recent research suggests unconscious bias is a key factor, operating in both men and women, and causing them to downgrade women's performance. For example, the "same" resume gets evaluated much more positively when a male name is put on it—the applicant is deemed more experienced, accomplished, smarter, etc.—than when a woman's name is on the resume. A practical application of this research occurred in symphony orchestras which began "blind" auditions to counteract the bias. The hiring rate of women increased five-fold.