Harvard Business Review
“What’s Really Holding Women Back?” Harvard Business Review
Robin J. Ely e Irene Padavic

Gender Inequality: Some reasons and solutions

Robin J. Ely and Irene Padavic, question the “work/family narrative” as the main reason to explain why women are underrepresented in the positions of power and authority at corporates. Their research contributes to find the reasons of why the progression to access to that kind of positions that had been occurring in the twenty century have been stalled in this century.

According to their research the following “work family narrative” is not true: “High-level jobs require extremely long hours, women’s devotion to family makes it impossible for them to put in those hours, and their careers suffer as a result”. 

Actually, “women’s turnover rate was not higher than men´s turnover rate, or distress over work/family conflict was suffered not just by women but also by men”. Their conclusion is that “Women weren’t held back because of trouble balancing the competing demands of work and family—men, too, suffered from the balance problem and nevertheless advanced-. Women were held back because, unlike men, they were encouraged to take accommodations, such as going part-time and shifting to internally facing roles, which derailed their careers. The real culprit was a general culture of overwork that hurt both men and women and locked gender inequality in place”.

"The “accommodations” solutions, ironically, tends to derail the careers of highly qualified women, leaving companies’ senior ranks depleted of some of their brightest female stars. Employees who took advantage of them—virtually all of whom were women—were stigmatized and saw their careers derailed. Perversely, these kind of measures, in their attempt to solve the problem of women’s stalled advancement, were perpetuating it.”

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