LONDON, April 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women are
just as ambitious as men at the start of their careers but this
falters if companies fail to encourage them, according to a
study released on Wednesday that sought to dispel the myth of a
gender ambition gap.
A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) of 200,000
employees, including 141,000 women from 189 countries, found
women just as ambitious as men at the outset and companies were
at fault for stopping this, not family status or motherhood.
Researchers at the global management consultancy found among
employees aged under 30, there was little difference in ambition
at first and ambition waned in both sexes over time, but women's
ambition eroded faster than men's at companies lagging on gender
The ambition gap between women and men aged 30 to 40 was 17
percent at firms that employees felt were least progressive on
gender diversity and at these firms only 66 percent of women
sought promotion compared with 83 percent of men.
But there was almost no ambition gap between women and men
aged 30 to 40 at firms where employees felt gender diversity was
improving with 85 percent of women seeking promotion compared
with 87 percent of men.
"Both genders are equally ambitious and equally rational,"
said Matt Krentz, a BCG senior partner and coauthor of the
report, in a statement.
"Ambition is not a fixed trait; it is an attribute that can
be nurtured or damaged over time through the daily interactions
and opportunities employees experience at work."
The report comes after a World Economic Forum study last
year said efforts to close gender gaps in pay and workforce
participation slowed so dramatically in the past year that men
and women may not reach economic equality for another 170 years.
Data from the International Labour Organization shows that
the gender wage gap globally is estimated at 23 percent, meaning
on average women earn 77 percent of what men earn.
Krentz said the BCG study showed that when companies create
a positive culture and attitude regarding gender diversity, all
women — mothers included — were eager to advance.
The BCG proposed a four step plan to close the ambition gap:
build gender-diverse leadership teams, make the workplace
suitable for both sexes, make and promote structural changes
like flexible work, and track progress.
"By creating the right culture, companies can foster women's
ambition and tap into the wider pool of talent needed to win in
the future," said Katie Abouzahr, a health care principal at BCG
and co-author of the report.
(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson
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