For women to thrive, men should lean out — Lotte Bailyn

MIT Sloan Professor Emerita Lotte Bailyn

MIT Sloan Professor Emerita Lotte Bailyn

From USA Today

Earlier this year, McKinsey & Co. published a survey of 1,400 managers revealing that female executives are just as ambitious as men. The survey found that79% of all mid- or senior-level women say they “have the desire to reach a top-management position,” similar to 81% of men.

The press went wild. “Career Drive Equal for Men and Women,” said the Business News Dailyheadline. “Study finds executive women are just as, if not more, ambitious than men,” said The Washington Post. The newspaper quotes a breathless McKinsey executive saying she was “so flabbergasted” by the finding. This isn’t news. It has been shown before and mirrors my experience teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But that ambition masks another reality: Fewer women than men feel confident they will make it to the top of their companies. The survey found that 69% of senior women are confident they will reach such a management position, compared with 83% of men. One reason: Corporate cultures that assume employees are always available and judges them harshly if they’re not. McKinsey calls it the “anytime, anywhere” performance standard.

Read the full post at USA Today. 

Lotte Bailyn is a professor emerita at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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