When asked if they wanted to be in the CEO position someday, one third of male executives said yes while only a quarter of female executives aspire to the top position. Why is that?
I didn’t find any studies that could pin point why there is a difference in aspiration among male and female executives for the corner office; but I have my guesses.
Both men and women know the role of CEO is hard and demanding and neither see it as easy, so we can rule out fear of the responsibility as a de-motivator. In fact, in the same study on CEO’s by Weber Shandwick they sited that both men and women who decline the CEO position (about 50%) state it is difficult to be a CEO– with no difference in answers based on gender.
From my work with many women who have left the corporate world, my feeling is that often women require greater passion and purpose than what is offered by pursuing the corporate climb to CEO. Both men and women want power and influence, but men value their success more heavily on those metrics than women do. Corporations, in their current form, are not meeting women’s intrinsic need to give back and do meaningful work.
If you are a corporate career woman, you have two choices:
- Use your power and influence within your corporation to make changes that ensure your company is changing to be a leader in areas that inspire you–whether that be women in leadership positions, fair wages for supplier’s workers, or environmental areas. Rising to that top position would give you a platform to create a company that focuses on a tripple bottom line–profits, people and planet.
- Start your own company that is formed from inception around principles and values you care about.
Whichever you choose, find a way to feel more engaged at what you do. I encourage all my clients to make work something they look forward to getting out of bed for, not something they do in order to do what they love.
What makes you passionate and inspired?