Survey finds women increasingly confident of becoming leaders.

Approximately 2,500 college educated men and women were surveyed and the results showed that women who make the leap from entry level jobs to middle management and then on to senior management are not only interested in becoming leaders, but they are also increasingly confident that they can.

Although women generate about a quarter of US GDP, they contribute less than they could—far too few of them move up the corporate ladder, for example, but not because they lack ambition. The problem isn’t simply a lack of flexible working conditions or support for working mothers. Nor is it an inability to get women into the workforce or women’s desire to opt out; most can’t afford to. Instead, entrenched mind-sets and behaviors—at companies and among women themselves—are two of the biggest culprits in preventing women from advancing. The issue is particularly acute at the transition from middle manager to senior manager, a point when women have proven themselves professionally yet a disproportionate share leave corporate careers.

The study reports that “Women often elect to remain in jobs if they derive a deep sense of meaning professionally. More than men, women prize the opportunity to pour their energies into making a difference and working closely with colleagues.”

The article states that women are crucial to US economic growth, and that:

  • “The additional productive power of women entering the workforce from 1970 until today accounts for about a quarter of the current GDP.”
  • “Between 1970 and 2009, women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48%.” 38 million more women are working now than 40 years ago.
  • Looking at companies with women on their boards in 2011, the research group Catalyst found a 26% difference in return on invested capital (ROIC) between the top-quartile companies (with 19-44% women board representation) and bottom-quartile companies (with no female directors).

Interestingly, the study also states that while women represent 53% of new hires, the drop-off rate of women at each level up the ladder is startling: 37% of the next-level promotions go to women while only 14% of executive committees are female. Additionally, the women on executive committees tend to hold staff jobs rather than the line jobs which feed the CEO level. The number of women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies seems to be stuck at 2-3%

The McKinsey article Unlocking the full potential of women in the US economy can be found here.