There’s many gaps when it comes to women’s workplace interactions. We’ve spoken at large about participation gaps, power gaps, pension gaps and of course, wage gaps.
Research is showing there’s another, more illusive, gap that’s pervasive between working men and women: the aspiration gap — and it’s starting at a younger age, despite cultural shifts.
Globally, Women are not aspiring to be leaders at the same rate that men are, according to research by Ekaterina Netchaeva from Bocconi University in a piece on The Conversation.
This comes from six decades of studies across 138,00 US participants. Within this a model of employees with eight hierarchical levels of leadership shows that there are 2.13 men for every woman aspiring to reach the highest organisational level.
Age is shown to have a huge impact on this. University is cited as the time where the aspirations start to split between men and women. Researchers state that it’s likely due to people getting their first glimpse of working life through internships and industry-related jobs.
“The aspiration gap is more prevalent in male-dominated and mixed industries.”
Additionally, industry matters in this equation. The aspiration gap is more prevalent in male-dominated and mixed industries — although still shown, albeit in smaller amounts, in women-dominated industries like education and nursing.
While the research hasn’t yet been able to test an explanation for the aspiration gap, there’s a belief that it involves “self-stereotyping.” They also cite the likelihood of women having more experiences of workplace bias, discrimination as a factor, along with the thoughts of how leadership positions and subsequent responsibilities may impact family lives.
“Our results suggest that interventions aimed at increasing women’s leadership aspirations should ideally occur before or during college” — Researcher Ekaterina Netchaeva
This ties into previously explorations on how women are more likely to lowball their own abilities and entrepreneurial offerings, shrug off praise, and experience a different level of confidence within their workplace selves.
Creating strong pipelines — both tangibly within organisations and also on a more abstract level, and starting from university age — are a key part of overcoming this trend. “Developing mentorship schemes or highlighting role models” is cited by Ekaterina Netchaeva. “Organisations should also focus on women who exhibit leadership potential early in their careers and provide them with useful resources and support to progress upwards through the organisation. Our results suggest that interventions aimed at increasing women’s leadership aspirations should ideally occur before or during college.”
Read the full scoop on The Conversation for more insights on the Aspiration Gap.