Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Today's Fun Survey: Women And Ambition At Work.

It's about how women no longer have the desire for those top jobs:
Tiffany Willis of Dallas has spent years climbing the corporate career ladder, working up to 70-hour weeks and pulling in about $60,000 as a middle manager.
She describes herself "as that mom sitting at the top of the bleachers at my kid's Saturday-morning football game on my cellphone for a conference call with my laptop."
But no more.
She walked away from the pressures, paycheck and prestige of jobs she called "meaningful and important" earlier this year and refuses to return, no matter how many offers come her way.
"I will never go back to the corporate world," she says. "I want to own my life."
A new nationwide survey shows that Willis, 44, may not be alone. A women and workplace survey from More magazine shows that 43% of the women surveyed say they are less ambitious now than they were a decade ago. And only a quarter of the 500 women ages 35 to 60 say they're working toward their next promotion.
And forget about the corner office: 3 out of 4 women in the survey — 73% — say they would not apply for their boss' job. Almost 2 of 5 — 38% — report they don't want to put up with the stress, office politics and responsibility that often go hand in hand with such positions.

And what are the conclusions we are to draw from all this? That women don't want that brass ring? That women with children should not work? That men earn more because 100% of men out there are working towards their next promotion?

Got you there, I hope. The survey does not ask men about anything. The lack of that comparison basis makes any interpretation of the evidence as something singular to women wrong. We simply don't know, assuming that these changes in ambition are real, whether they are only taking place among women or also taking place among men. Especially given the crummy economic situation and the way many firms try to get two people's job from one person on one paycheck.

But I was also rather struck with the assumption that $60,000 a year for a 70-hour workweek was somehow being up there in the stratosphere. It sounds pretty exploitative to me.

Then have a look at the way the results are reported. For instance, the quote above on wanting the boss's job states that "Almost 2 of 5 — 38% — report they don't want to put up with the stress, office politics and responsibility that often go hand in hand with such positions."

Does that means that more than three out of five ARE prepared to put up with those negative side-effects? I couldn't get hold of the study to check and it's always possible that some respondents said they don't know or didn't answer the question.

Now this would be a fun assignment. Pick the data above and write a post about how many women really are very ambitious at work! One in four of all women are hovering around, ready to grab the job of their bosses! One in four are avidly working towards their next promotion! And so on.

Most men are not working towards their next promotion. I'm willing to bet on that. But because we didn't study that at all, everything about the interpretations is pure speculation.