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Noteworthy Research Studies and Reports

Noteworthy studies are an important part of the Center for Women and Business’s mission. Research provides a roadmap for organizations and individuals alike to move the conversation about helping women reach their full potential in the workplace forward. Links to some of that work, grouped by topic, are included below.

Leadership and Women

Women and Leadership
Pew Research Center, 2015

According to the majority of Americans, women are every bit as capable of being good political leaders as men. 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? 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.

Women in S&P 500 Companies 
Catalyst, 2015

The Catalyst Pyramids were created to show that although women’s overall representation in the workforce is close to parity with men’s representation, there is a severe drop-off at the upper tiers of the Pyramid (high-level management, Board of Director seats, CEOs). The Pyramids visually highlight the gender gap for women in leadership.

Everyday Moments of Truth
Bain & Company, 2014

For the past five years, Bain & Company has studied how and why women’s career paths differ from men’s. We surveyed more than 1,000 men and women in the US at all career levels, asking specifically about their interest in pursuing a top management position (board, CEO level, and one or two levels below CEO) in a large company. We discovered that 43% of women aspire to top management when they are in the first two years of their position, compared with 34% of men at that stage. Both genders are equally confident about their ability to reach a top management position at that stage. However, over time, women’s aspiration levels drop more than 60% while men’s stay the same. Among experienced employees (those with two or more years of experience), 34% of men are still aiming for the top, while only 16% of women are. As they gain experience, women’s confidence also falls by half, while men’s stays about the same.

Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women
Harvard Business Review Magazine, 2010

More women than men report having mentors. If the women are being mentored so thoroughly, why aren’t they moving into higher management positions? To better understand what is going on, we conducted in-depth interviews with 40 high-potential men and women (including Nathalie, Amy, and Julie) who were selected by their large multinational company to participate in its high-level mentoring program.

Centered Leadership: How Talented Women Thrive
McKinsey Quarterly, 2008

Women start careers in business and other professions with the same level of intelligence, education, and commitment as men. Yet comparatively few reach the top echelons. A new approach to leadership can help women become more self-confident and effective business leaders.

Diversity: The Business Imperative

2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index: 2011 – 2015 Progress of Women Corporate Directors by Company Size, State and Sector
2020 Women on Boards, 2015

Annually, the non-profit conducts a review of the gender makeup of corporate boards in the Fortune 1000 and releases a Gender Diversity Index (GDI) to show progress in increasing the percentage of women on boards. The 2015 report, which compares findings with previous years, reveals positive signs of growth for women directors and a decrease of companies with no women directors.

Public Companies
The Boston Club, 2014

During the year that ended June 30, 2014, the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts set new records in terms of the percentage of women in their boardrooms and executive suites, continuing a three-year pattern of progress. The accomplished women who serve in these leadership positions are making significant contributions to the success of these companies in today’s global marketplace. As in the past, however, this progress has taken place from a low base. And although fewer and fewer Massachusetts companies continue to operate with all-male boards and executive suites, too many of them still fail to take advantage of vacancies to diversify these leadership groups. Leading companies in all industries have been able to identify and recruit or promote a critical mass of women to add value to their organizations. There is no reason why the laggards cannot learn from these examples.

European Board Diversity Analysis
Egon Zehnder, 2014

Today, the drive for board diversity is a worldwide phenomenon. The case for expanding board diversity is by now familiar: Draw on the full range of the best available talent to oversee, govern, and advise companies in an era of startling change and unprecedented challenges. Diversity is a key to making boards more acutely attuned, broadly capable, and consistently effective than ever before.

Breadwinner Moms
Pew Research Center, 2013

A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the public remains of two minds about the gains mothers have made in the workplace- most recognize the clear economic benefits to families, but many voice concerns about the toll that having a working mother may take on children or even marriage.

Survey on Workplace Flexibility
WorldatWork, 2013

In this second iteration of the “Survey on Workplace Flexibility,” we continue to see that offerings and approaches vary significantly from one organization to the next. The prevalence of some flexibility programs has increased while the opposite is true for others, but flexibility is still offered by the overwhelming majority of organizations. The shift in specific program offerings could be a sign that organizations are tailoring programs to fit their needs as well as the needs of their workforces.

Women in the boardroom: A global perspective
Deloitte, 2013

In 2013, women affect more economic and financial decisions in households than ever before. In the United States, for example, women account for almost 70 percent of car purchasing decisions. This influence extends throughout the developing world, where women are seen as the key to driving improvements in access to education and healthcare.

How Women Can Contribute More to the U.S. Economy
McKinsey Quarterly, 2011

Since women’s participation in the workforce took off, in the 1970s, their productivity has accounted for about a quarter of current GDP. But women still aren’t reaching their full economic potential. The ability to retain and promote more women middle managers is a key point of leverage.

Unlocking the Full Potential of Women in the U.S. Economy
McKinsey Quarterly, 2011

Creating the conditions to unlock the full potential of women and achieve our economic goals is a complex and difficult challenge. We believe, however, that there is an opportunity to make substantial progress in developing and advancing women on the path to leadership.


Millennial Research

CWB Millennial Report
Center for Women and Business, 2013
An online survey of 1,000 college-educated Millennial adults reveals a group of workers eager to both challenge the status quo and and stability through a long term commitment to their employers.
While these young adults don’t dismiss the negative stereotypes circulating about their generation, these Millennial respondents see themselves as confident, ambitious, and willing to make sacrifces to get ahead. They do not, however, want to be forced to give up what matters to them most for career success. Respondents want to work hard, but they also want to work differently.