You are here

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

Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey
Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2016

Analysis of a global survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries suggests that the presence of women in corporate leadership positions may improve firm performance. This correlation could reflect either the payoff to nondiscrimination or the fact that women increase a firm’s skill diversity. Women’s presence in corporate leadership is positively correlated with firm characteristics such as size as well as national characteristics such as girls’ math scores, the absence of discriminatory attitudes toward female executives, and the availability of paternal leave. The results find no impact of board gender quotas on firm performance, but they suggest that the payoffs of policies that facilitate women rising through the corporate ranks more broadly could be significant.

2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index: 2016
2020 Women on Boards, 2016

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 2016 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.

The Gender Wage Gap

The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap
American Association of University Women, 2015

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) works to ensure women receive equal pay. As Executive Director Linda D. Hallman says, “Pay equity is a priority for AAUW, and it will continue to be until women everywhere earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” This guide contains data and graphs that help illustrate the pay wage gap between men and women, as well as explanations and resources. Information is organized around six common questions:

  1.       What is the pay gap?
  2.       Is the pay gap really about women’s life choices?
  3.       How does the pay gap affect women of different demographics?
  4.       Is there a pay gap in all jobs?
  5.       What can I do to make a difference?
  6.       What should I do if I experience sex discrimination at work?

The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2014 and by Race and Ethnicity
Institute for Women's Policy Research, 2015

Data for both women’s and men’s median weekly earnings for full-time work are available for 116 occupations; these include only one occupation—‘health practitioner support technologists and technicians’—in which women have exactly the same median weekly earnings as men, and one—‘stock clerks and order fillers’—where women earn slightly more than men. The occupation with the widest gap in earnings is ‘personal financial advisers,’ with a gender earnings ratio of just 61.3 percent. In 109 of the 116 occupations, the gender earnings ratio of women’s median weekly earnings to men’s is 0.95 or lower (that is, a wage gap of at least 5 cents per dollar earned by men); in 27 of these occupations the gender earnings ratio is lower than 0.75 (that is, a wage gap of more than 25 cents per dollar earned by men).

The Status of Women in the States: 2015 (full report)
Institute for Women's Policy Research, 2015

The report presents hundreds of state-by-state data points across seven areas that affect women’s lives: employment and earnings, political participation, work and family, poverty and opportunity, reproductive rights, health and well-being, and violence and safety. For each of these topic areas except violence and safety, the report calculates a composite index, ranks the states from best to worst, and assigns a letter grade based on the difference between the state’s performance in that area and goals set by IWPR (e.g., no remaining wage gap or the proportional representation of women in political office). The report also tracks progress over time, covers basic demographic statistics on women, and presents additional data on a range of topics related to women’s status. 

How Equal Pay for Working Women would Reduce Poverty and Grow the American Economy
Institute for Women's Policy Research, 2014

This briefing paper summarizes analyses of the 2010-2012 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic supplement and uses statistical controls for labor supply, human capital, and labor market characteristics to estimate: 1) how much women’s earnings and family incomes would rise with equal pay; 2) how much women and their families lose because women earn less than similarly qualified men; and 3) how much the economy as a whole suffers from inequality in pay between women and men.

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.