Gender bias peaks midcareer, female execs say

In a survey of more than 100 female senior executives, half said they faced the most gender discrimination in their mid-30s to late 40s, Harvard Business Review reported Sept. 16. 

The women surveyed by the Review frequently referenced three challenges: 

  • Unfair assumptions become clearer midcareer. Women who are actively parenting are considered less dedicated to their careers than men, or are considered less for advancement. 
  • Women find that people pay extra attention to their mannerisms, making it harder for them to climb the ranks. They face more backlash for making difficult decisions, like initiating layoffs, and are expected to balance assertion with likability. 
  • Men integrate more easily into work "cliques." For example, men are more likely to take other men golfing or to sports games with clients. This gap in networking opportunities  can affect career advancement for women. 

Organizations can address this issue by making performance evaluations and promotions as quantifiable as possible: Using structured measures to assess employees leaves less room for bias to seep in, according to the Review

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