A Note on Women and Power

By Jeffrey Pfeffer
2010 | Case No. OB78 | Length 19 pgs.
Pay and promotion discrimination for women continues in the United States. Women earn less than similarly qualified men, tend to work in occupations and job titles that pay less, and are underrepresented in senior management ranks, including CEO and board positions. Although the extent of gender-based career discrimination has declined somewhat over the past several decades, its persistence raises fundamental questions as to why women are apparently disadvantaged.

This note seeks to understand women’s underrepresentation in senior management ranks by exploring the relationship between gender and power dynamics. An important question about attaining power is how the rules of the game differ, if they do, for men and women. If the rules are different or operate in ways that disadvantage women, what should or could women do to build a path to power? There is extensive research on women’s attaining positions of power and also quite a bit of evidence to understand the underlying mechanisms that partly explain why women are, on average, not as successful as similarly qualified men in getting to senior level positions or earning comparable salaries. This note reviews some of the most relevant data on these questions. It provides a brief summary of the existing social science theory and evidence that helps elucidate the interrelated issues of gender, power, and career success.

Learning Objective

Social issues,executive selection,Women,Power and Influence,executives,work life balance,women in business,women executives
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