With few exceptions, the business world has never been a bed of roses for women. In a society that still views business primarily as a "man's world," women, despite their capabilities and qualifications, continue to fight an uphill battle for equality that is due them.
A recent study conducted by Catalyst, a non-profit organization for women in the workplace, compared 9,000 male and female MBAs entering the workforce over a ten year period. 46 percent of the males received entry-level positions while 60 percent of the women were hired at an entry level, despite the same level of professional experience for both gender groups. Likewise, the men earned $4,600 more at their first jobs.
One of the reasons given for the parities is not prejudice but practicality. Most companies hire employees with a long term plan in mind. It is anticipated that young women entering the workforce after college will have children within a certain period of time, thus disturbing the succession planning of the company. Thus, businesses prefer to invest more in men, anticipating longevity with the company. Women, themselves, admit that family commitments may disrupt their careers and, therefore, they tend not to lobby and pursue the top positions.
The point was driven home in another study conducted jointly by the Columbia Business School and the Women's Executive Circle of New York. The study went beyond entry levels and found that the disparities plague women throughout their careers. In examining women's roles at the 100 largest public corporations based in New York, less than 11 percent of the C-level positions were held by women.
Women are making strides in the business world but the progress is slow. Companies do want equality but this will only occur when the business world attunes itself to the needs of the cultural world, allowing the business world to benefit from the many qualified and experienced women available, while modifying to meet the needs of the women's lifestyles.
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