Poll: 25 Percent Believe Time Travel Will Happen Before Female Parity in Fortune 500

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 4, 2017
Pay Gap

A recent survey done by the Rockefeller Foundation has discovered that 25 percent of people believe we'll have time travel before female parity in Fortune 500 leadership. The poll surveyed 1,010 adults aged 18 and up between May 19 and 26 this year. It found that there is wide agreement that women are just as qualified as men to lead a business (91 percent of men and 97 percent of women), but that men are strongly advantaged in terms of advancement (83 percent agree, 44 percent strongly agree). In general more than half of those polled say that perceptions play a big part, with 65 percent saying that the attitude of men in top leadership positions play a major role in the lack of advancement for women. Other possible culprits include the attitudes of men across a company (61 percent) and company culture (63 percent). 

Culture may be what enables numerous experiences that women feel have impeded their progress to leadership roles. The survey found that 39 percent of women feel they have been judged more harshly because of their gender, 39 percent said they felt out and out discriminated against, and 40 percent said they're interrupted more often. Further, 33 percent of women said they have felt verbally or physically harassed based on gender in a professional setting. Even when women do make it to the top, 56 percent believe that female CEOs are judged more harshly, whereas only 18 percent believe that they are given more leeway than men. 

The survey results call to mind the experiences outlined in a recent New York Times article of women who came close but ultimately failed to achieve the coveted CEO position. The main inhibiting factor described in their stories is not so much an explicit rule or policy but, rather, culture. The decision of who gets to be CEO, the Times noted, often comes down more to personal networks that, at the high levels being discussed, tend to be male-dominated. Because few women are part of those networks, few women become CEOs. Breaking into these networks can be difficult, said the Times, because some men don't want to be seen going out for drinks or otherwise socializing with them, as it might be seen as flirtatious. Less benignly, the article also noted that, because women are seen as easier targets, they become more frequent targets for the office politicking that often entails competing for choice positions. The importance of office politicking is something else that blindsided some of the women quoted in the article, as some carried the assumption that merit would be the overwhelming factor. 

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