The Myth of the Ideal Worker:

Does Doing All The Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? MYTH-BUSTING: Doing All the Right Things Does Not Level the Playing Field for Women. Catalyst Research Report from Nancy M. Carter and Christine Silva, September 2011.

Catalyst’s longitudinal project, The Promise of Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline, develops timely reports on the retention and advancement of high potential women and men. The project surveys graduates of leading business schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, with the intent of assessing their career values, goals, and expectations, the developmental opportunities afforded them, and their strategies for managing work and family life. The reports highlight the differences in women’s and men’s career experiences and satisfaction; some feature perspectives from global leaders and other experts.

The fourth report,The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?, tackles persistent myths about the gender gap. Career advancement strategies used by women and men were compared to determine if using the same strategies ultimately leads to the same career outcomes. Findings revealed that:

  • Men benefited more from adopting proactive strategies.
  • When women did all the things they have been told will help them get ahead—using the same tactics as men—they still advanced less than their male counterparts and had slower pay growth.

The report includes a series of questions for the reader to reflect upon about why disparities in career advancement may exist and persist. The goal is to help identify opportunities for effecting change in your career and organization. 

More information:

Nancy M. Carter, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Research
(212) 514-7600 ext. 307

Christine Silva
Director, Research
(416) 815-7600 ext. 629

Mentor Circle: Chevron Corporation, Deutsche Bank AG

Research Partners: American Express Company, BMO Financial Group, Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse, Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, Ernst & Young LLP, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, McDonald’s Corporation, UPS