Single women at disadvantage for leadership at work

Although working mothers have always known it is more challenging to ascend the leadership ranks at work, new studies suggest that single women also sit at a disadvantage, Bloomberg reported March 10.

One study asked 300 participants about how likely they were to recommend a fictional woman for a big promotion. When the woman was presented as single, she was less likely to be recommended for a promotion compared to when she was presented with a husband and children. There was no such difference when a fictional man was presented as single or with a family. 

Another study analyzed real MBA post graduates and their career trajectories. Women who were young, single and scored well on the analytical entrance exam experienced more career setbacks than both married and single men, married women and single women who didn't have as many analytical skills. The research suggested that others may perceive these analytical skills as "masculine" traits. 

While married women with children are often judged for their commitments outside of work, the researchers noted that capable young women are also penalized for their talents.

"You’re being penalized early on because you don't fit this communal image of a woman and you're not a man, and then later you're penalized because you have these other commitment pieces," Jennifer Merluzzi, PhD, associate professor at George Washington University and an author of the research, told Bloomberg.

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