A recent report has shed light on an alarming gender disparity in the professional world. In 2022, for every 100 men promoted to a managerial role, only 87 women have had the same opportunity. This statistic underscores a persistent gender inequality issue in the workplace, particularly concerning career advancement.
Study Reveals Disparity
An investigation by MIT Sloan associate professor, Danielle Li, showed that female employees are less likely to be promoted than their male counterparts despite being more productive and less likely to quit. According to Li's paper, 'Potential and the Gender Promotion Gap', on average, women received higher performance ratings than male employees but received 8.3 lower ratings for potential. Consequently, female employees were less likely to be promoted.
Unpacking the Data
The research analyzed data from approximately 30,000 employees at a large North American retail chain. Women constituted around 56% of entry-level workers. However, their representation diminished higher up the ranks, making up 48% of department managers, 35% of store managers, and a meager 14% of district managers. The Nine Box rating system, a numerical talent assessment tool, showed that potential ratings strongly predicted promotions. This discovery means that the gender difference in potential ratings can account for up to half of the overall gender promotion gap.
Understanding the Gap
The study also examined stereotypes around women supporting women and women's decision to stay with a company. Contrary to popular belief, female managers did not necessarily provide unbiased evaluations; they tended to give everyone lower scores. Furthermore, men who missed out on promotions were more likely to quit than their female counterparts, suggesting that women are more resilient in the face of adversity.
Closing the Gap
Addressing this gender disparity requires a clear definition of potential and an update in manager feedback. The ambiguity of the term 'potential' leaves room for interpretation and bias, which can negatively affect women. Managers should be trained to provide constructive feedback grounded on objective metrics, not on subjective perceptions or stereotypes. This strategy will help ensure that women are not unjustifiably held back from career advancement opportunities.