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Why women are behind men on the U.S. corporate ladder

David Brancaccio Oct 1, 2015
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A new study by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and Lean In, the organization of Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook fame, found wide disparities in gender representation in all areas of the workplace. Among the findings: At every level of employment, women are underrepresented. And the gap only grows with seniority, with C-suite jobs being primarily held by men.

Video by the Wall Street Journal

“Women and men start out equally ambitious,” said Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy editor in chief at the Wall Street Journal. The Journal explored the data as part of a special section called “Women in the Workplace.”

“Unfortunately, what happens at every step along the way is that women’s ambition eases a bit and men’s stay quite strong. But I think it’s important not to blame the woman,” she said.

Blumenstein said there’s a misconception that caring for a family is what takes women out of the workplace.

“For a long time, we felt that the reason women stall out is because of families and children, but the research shows actually having a family makes women and men more ambitious,” she said, because responsibility for a child forces people to focus their income.

The study also found that 90 percent of women and men believe that their position at work will be hurt if they take full advantage of family leave.

“There’s a stigma to it,” Blumenstein said. “Our survey showed that only 12 percent participation in many of these programs.”

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