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Are Women Their Own Worst Enemies in the Workforce?

Via a tweet from Sui Generis' Nicole Black comes this Reuters piece on a recent international study that concludes: "Women are their own workplace enemies when it comes to cracking the glass ceiling."  The 2008 study, conducted by U.S. behavioral scientist Shannon Goodson, found that professional women in countries as diverse as the United States, China, Sweden and New Zealand, uniformly failed to do enough to advance their own careers.  Of those studied, women in New Zealand and Sweden were most timid about self-promotion, with American, British and Chinese women taking the most initiative to toot their own horns.

What's even more troubling about Goodson's research is that it found that women who succeeded in climbing the corporate ladder often "pulled the ladder up with them" and even tried to sabotage other women's success.  In my view, the phenomenon of women working against women is most damaging, because a woman's view of another woman's work carries the most weight with men.  For example, if a woman partner says that she doesn't think her female colleague has what it takes to make partner, men will accord the woman partner's views even more weight precisely because she's a woman.

Goodson didn't study law firms specifically, but to me, her conclusions would apply across the board.  What do you think about all of this?  Are women hurting other women? Do women have an obligation to help each other reach the top?  Send your comments below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 20, 2008 at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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