March 16, 2009

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Breaking the Gender Divide There’s no disputing that women are not well represented in the boardroom or the executive suite, but the desire for greater challenges at work cuts across gender lines. A recent survey by Accenture “Untapped Potential: Stretching Toward the Future” suggests that women and men in management are not being challenged enough. Reading the survey results, one might conclude that the differences among men and women in the workplace are more about perception than reality. A higher percentage of women (54 percent) than men (51 percent) worldwide believe they are challenged in their current position. Leading the world in terms of challenging women in the workplace, India tallied the highest percentage at 66 percent, a point higher than the figure for men in India. Women in Russia and Mexico reported the lowest engagement level, just 40 and 31 percent, respectively, report being challenged. In terms of rating their own success, women in Mexico, Brazil, and the U.S. report the highest level of satisfaction, all rating above 70 percent. In European countries the number of women who report having successful careers hovers in the 50 percent range. Also clear from the survey is that women who consider themselves successful go at step further whether it means asking the boss for more difficult assignments, taking on additional responsibilities or acquiring new skills. Among women who consider themselves successful, just 46 percent have jobs that require them to stretch beyond their normal responsibilities, a figure that appears low. Surprisingly, the figure is even lower for men, just 33 percent. The idea about men being more aggressive in the workplace might also be put to rest based on the survey data. Women are more likely to ask their superiors for new challenges than men, notably in the U.S., Spain, Russia, and Britain. Men are more likely to ask for a raise than women but not by wide margins. The margin of difference is only a few percentage points in most countries surveyed.

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The T+D blog covers training, learning, business, and technology topics as well as relevant content from ASTD (the American Society for Training and Development) publications and services.

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