May 27, 1999
University Gazette


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Study Looks at Women Leaders and Workplace Advancement

Although most women feel they no longer have to work harder than men to secure leadership positions, many believe they must still make greater personal sacrifices to climb the corporate ladder, according to a new study released Monday, May 17, by the Radcliffe Public Policy Institute (RPPI) and the Boston Club. According to the survey of 453 Boston-based women executives, only 7.9 percent feel that they have had to "work harder and longer than their male counterparts to reach a leadership position." However, 65.3 percent of the respondents believe they have had to make "greater personal sacrifices" than their male colleagues.

"Even women leaders with more than average income and power still struggle to work and have a life," said RPPI Director Paula Rayman. "We know from our research that the time crunch falls more heavily on women who are caught between their career goals and obligations outside of work. What they give up is time with children, with their aging parents, with friends, and especially time for themselves." The survey findings also support a recent study by Catalyst, a New York-based management consulting group, and the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, which found that women are leaving existing companies because they are frustrated with corporate America and want more flexibility. Self-employed women in the new survey were more likely to describe themselves as comfortable with power, secure in their jobs, and more likely to sit on the boards of community organizations. "Workplace culture emerged as the single most critical factor to be taken into consideration in determining the level of effectiveness and comfort these women experienced as leaders," said Boston Club President Barbara Marx. "If we don't support women in our corporations, we will lose many talented and seasoned leaders." Other highlights of the Radcliffe/Boston Club survey include: * Most women feel they have little time for themselves, their families, or friends; * There is no predominant "female style" of leadership; * 90 percent of women reported that their careers play a major role in their self-definition.

Women participating in the survey averaged more than 23 years in the work force, with 60 percent earning more than $100,000 per year. Most of these women averaged 49 hours per week on the job, with 10 percent reporting that they spent more than 61 hours in the workplace. The respondents were Radcliffe College alumnae and members of The Boston Club, representing leaders in corporations, nonprofit organizations and community organizations. Follow-up focus groups were funded with a grant from Fidelity Investments.


Copyright 1999 President and Fellows of Harvard College