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Women are more ambitious than they were before the pandemic: study

The annual “Women in the Workplace” report from McKinsey and LeanIn.Org found that workplace flexibility is powering that ambition.
Image: A group of colleagues having a meeting in an office
The "Women in the Workplace" study found that women’s representation in the C-suite has grown to 28 percent, the highest it has ever beenTinpixels / Getty Images

There’s a common misconception that professional women just aren’t as ambitious as men – and that flexible work is somehow to blame.

But a new study shows that women are actually more ambitious than they were before the pandemic – and that workplace flexibility is powering that ambition.

According to the annual “Women in the Workplace” report from McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, at nearly every stage of their careers, women remain just as ambitious as men. That includes women who work hybrid or remotely. The vast majority of women, 96 percent, said their career is important to them and 81 percent are interested in being promoted to the next level, which is the same as men.

Meanwhile, most women said reduced fatigue and burnout is one of the biggest benefits of remote and hybrid work. The study also busted the myth that it’s mostly women who want and benefit form flexibility. Both men and women said flexibility is a “top three” employee benefit.

That was just one finding in the study, which surveyed approximately 27,000 individuals in more than 270 companies.

The study also found that women’s representation in the C-suite has grown to 28 percent, the highest it has ever been. Researchers noted, however, that these were notable but fragile gains without sustained improvements. Meanwhile, women of color remain underrepresented at every stage of the pipeline and make just 6 percent in the C-suite.

Researchers also found that the so-called “glass ceiling” isn’t to blame for holding women back at work. Instead, women who are early in their careers are likely to face a “broken rung” lower down on the professional ladder.

For example, the study found that for every 100 men promoted from the entry-level to manager, 87 women and only 73 women of color were promoted. It also found that the “broken run” holds back Black women and Latinas the most. For every 100 men promoted from entry level jobs to management jobs, only 54 Black women and 76 Latinas were promoted. In other words, women who get stuck at the entry-level had a harder time catching up later in their careers.

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