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Men get the jobs that get them ahead

2012-12-26 14:15:33Source:THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.Author:

When it comes to the hot, high-profile jobs that lead to big promotions, managers overwhelmingly pick men for such plum roles, according to a new study, released Wednesday.

Even when they are equally qualified, women are generally given smaller budgets, fewer direct reports and less exposure to the C-suite than their male counterparts, according a poll of 1,660 professionals of both genders in 2010 and 2011 conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit research group that aims to expand opportunities for women in the workplace. The findings suggest that women aren't getting the same opportunities for professional advancement as men.

The report is the sixth in a series following a group of professionals who graduated from 26 top business schools worldwide between 1996 and 2007. This latest study measures the ability of both genders to land so-called 'hot jobs': highly visible projects, critical roles and international assignments in their post-M.B.A. professions.

While both genders led roughly the same number of projects, starting at the same point in their post-M.B.A. careers, men averaged three times as many team members and double the budget sizes. Men were more likely than women to say they were more visible to C-suite executives during these projects.

On the surface, the distribution of projects appear to be equitable, 'but when you dig deeper, you realize the projects are different in significant ways,' says Christine Silva, senior research director at Catalyst and the study's lead author.

More men also reported holding positions with big responsibilities, such as profit-and-loss (56% versus 46% for women), managing direct reports (77% versus 70%) and budgets of more than $10 million (30% versus 22%).

On international assignments, men were generally more willing to relocate than women (56% versus 39%). However, even among those willing to relocate, 35% of men were offered an international assignment, compared to 26% of women.

The findings indicate that the disparity between high-potential men and women begins soon after graduation and continues well into their careers. An earlier study in the series found men make on average $4,600 more than women in their first post-M.B.A. job, after controlling for industry, job level and geographic region.

'Women and men use the same career advancement strategies, but men get a bigger payoff in terms of advancement and compensation growth,' Silva says. She argues that the disparity probably hinges upon managers' misconceptions about what women want, adding that 'organizations need to think more critically about who gets which projects.'