“At the current pace of progress, we are more than 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite.”
That’s Sheryl Sandberg’s sobering conclusion based on a new survey (pdf) of 30,000 employees at more than 100 companies in the US, run by LeanIn.Org, the organization founded by the Facebook executive, and consultancy McKinsey. As Sandberg adds, “if NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices.”
The “glass ceiling” is real, and progress in promoting more women to positions of power is glacial, at best. But the survey adds some noteworthy nuance to the debate.
Women are not quitting their jobs at higher rates than men. In fact, at almost every rung of the corporate ladder, turnover is higher for men than women:
But if that’s the case, why are there fewer women in senior positions?
Maybe it’s this: although three-quarters of company representatives say that their CEOs prioritize gender diversity, far fewer rank-and-file employees (particularly women) think this is the case:
Or, there’s this problem, which is that a lot of women don’t want to climb the corporate ladder:
Two-thirds of women with kids worry about balancing a bigger job with family and nearly 60% say they don’t want the stress of a more senior role. Women’s concerns about juggling work and home life might be related to this:
And despite lots of corporate initiatives to promote flexibility and better work-life balance, most employees simply aren’t taking advantage of them (except when it comes to telecommuting—a lot of people are telecommuting).
Sandberg suggested we should not be discouraged by these numbers. Instead, they should push us to take action. “We reached the moon in eight years of concerted effort—not 80,” she says. “Let’s bring that same urgency to this mission.”