By Vanessa Fuhrmans
15 October 2019
The conventional narrative of the ambitious woman at work goes something like this: Woman joins the workforce with big dreams. Over the years, she advances in her career alongside male colleagues. Yet on the way to the top, she hits an invisible barrier to the highest corridors of power.
Long before bumping into any glass ceiling, many women run into obstacles trying to grasp the very first rung of the management ladder—and not because they are pausing their careers to raise children—a new, five-year landmark study shows. As a result, it’s early in many women’s careers, not later, when they fall dramatically behind men in promotions, blowing open a gender gap that then widens every step up the chain.
The numbers tell a stark story: Though women and men enter the workforce in roughly equal numbers, men outnumber women nearly 2 to 1 when they reach that first step up—the manager jobs that are the bridge to more senior leadership roles. In real numbers, that will translate to more than one million women across the U.S. corporate landscape getting left behind at the entry level over the next five years as their male peers move on and upward, perpetuating a shortage of women in leadership positions.
Few efforts are likely to remedy the problem as much as tackling the gender imbalance in initial promotions into management, says Lareina Yee, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., which co-led the research with LeanIn.Org. If companies in the U.S. continue to make the same, tiny gains in the numbers of women they promote and hire into management every year, it will be another 30 years before the gap between first-level male and female managers closes, McKinsey estimates. But fix that broken bottom rung of the corporate ladder, and companies could reach near-parity all the way up to their top leadership roles within a generation.
Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.