Gender Gap myth #1 for women was exposed showing that many women are not starting out at the same level of pay as their male counterparts. Despite their highly-employable MBA credentials, their career paths did not necessarily translate into comparable success in executive and corporate positions.
The second gender gap myth exposed by Silva and Carter is how the economic downturn has benefited executive women. Their study showed that senior executive women suffered more than expected. Study results indicated that only 6% of senior men lost jobs due to the economy. Senior women by comparison took a loss in earnings at over 3 times that rate at 19%, and it debunks the myth they made progress and benefited from the downturn.
The media in general has talked about women benefiting from the recession based on numbers of women employed and this is true when compared to men who have lost jobs. However, less is said about the fact that more women are holding service-sector, lower paying jobs, which certainly skews the perception of any benefit from the economy.
Another interesting commentary on senior women is about those who have advanced to high level positions but don’t remain there. According to Avivah Wittenbert-Cox, CEO of her own gender consulting firm, new CEO’s often use the opportunity to re-structure their executive positions. She mentions the examples of both BP and Shell, where the number of high level women dropped following the appointments of new CEOs.
So, it appears that women are still expendable despite the level of their achievement.
New Research Busts Myths About the Gender Gap by Christine Silva and Nancy Carter http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/new_research_busts_myths_about.html
Industry Knows No Gender by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/03/industry_knows_no_gender.html