According to the majority of
Americans, women are every bit
as capable of being good political
leaders as men. The same can be
said of their ability to dominate
the corporate boardroom. And
according to a new Pew
Research Center survey on
women and leadership, most
Americans find women
indistinguishable from men on
key leadership traits such as
intelligence and capacity for
innovation, with many saying
they’re stronger than men in
terms of being compassionate
and organized leaders.
So why, then, are women in short supply at the top of government and business in the United States? According to the public, at least, it’s not that they lack toughness, management chops or proper skill sets.
It’s also not all about work-life balance. While economic research and previous survey findings
have shown that career interruptions related to motherhood may make it harder for women to
advance in their careers and compete for top executive jobs, relatively few adults in the new Pew
Research survey point to this as a key barrier for women seeking leadership roles.Only about one in-five
say women’s family responsibilities are a major reason there aren’t more females in top
leadership positions in business and politics.
Instead, topping the list of reasons, about four-in-ten Americans point to a double standard for women seeking to climb to the highest levels of either politics or business, where they have to do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves. Similar shares say the electorate and corporate America are just not ready to put more women in top leadership positions.
As a result, the public is divided about whether, even in the face of the major advances women have made in the workplace, the imbalance in corporate America will change in the foreseeable future. About half (53%) believe men will continue to hold more top executive positions in business in the future; 44% say it is only a matter of time before as many women are in top executive positions as men. Americans are less doubtful when it comes to politics: 73% expect to see a female president in their lifetime.
These findings are based on a new Pew
Research Center survey of 1,835 randomly
selected adults conducted online Nov. 12-21,
2014. The survey also finds that the public is
divided over whether a woman with leadership
aspirations is better off having children early
on in her career (36%) or waiting until she is
well established (40%). About one-in-five
(22%) say the best option would be to not have
children at all.