Bain & Company Report: Everyday moments of truth: Frontline managers are key to women’s career aspirations (read it here ⇒)
Harvard Business Review Summary: Companies Drain Women’s Ambition After Only 2 Years (read it here ⇒)
I just read an article from Harvard Business Review about how companies drain a woman’s ambition after just 2 years. I read it because I was curious, even though the title didn’t surprise me. The title was along the lines of “oh, by the way, fruit is healthy”.
Perhaps the question I wanted insight to is the why they were surprised about the two year mark? It seems pretty intuitive to me, and I would imagine most females in the corporate world. The answer is simply, it’s not really at the two year mark when we see the reality of the situation.
- It’s actually at 6 months, but at that point we just assume there’s something wrong with us, so we take a moment to regroup, and do our best to turn it around.
- By 12 months we are re-committed to making a real, solid effort to fit in and manage to make our work and interactions meet the expectations.
- At 18 months we are blindsided by an interaction that demonstrates all the effort and work we did had little or no impact, even thought we thought it was working. But in the end, original assumptions are there, and we’re just still girls. It takes a while to get over it, especially the more you get hit in the face with it.
- By 24 months we fully realize and accept that no matter what we do, no matter how we shine, no matter what effort and success we put forward, and no matter how collaborative, supportive, and committed initiative we put forward, we remain invisible. Because those expectations that we are directed to adhere to require that we do not have aspirations other than to please.
So it happens at 6 months. We’re quick studies, but we try to make it work. It takes us 18 months to process that it’s not us, but we still hold out a shred of hope that we can fix, before we finally and another 6 to finally accept defeat. And when we go, it’s a shock to the others, as if it happened overnight.
Dating’s the same way.
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NOTE: To be honest, I didn’t read the Bain report. I skimmed it, but it just didn’t interest me. A quick skim showed me that the reason the report exists is likely due to a need to have an explanation of why there aren’t more women in management, to show that there is a review of the situation, and to justify why it will remain, and what should be done for the up and coming leaders to fix it. It just reeks of being an instance of kicking the can down the road. Of course, that could just be my own bias in the canned studies to explain the continued reality.
Note 2: This commentary also had a previously edited out last point that I still feel states the case better, but I took it out, choosing to err on the part of more professional writing. Because I refuse to fully conform to what is appropriate, instead choosing to go with what is true and resonates with the readers and to be authentic, I have included it here:
By 24 months we fully realize and accept that no matter what we do, no matter how we shine, no matter what effort and success we put forward, and no matter how collaborative, supportive, and invisible we make ourselves and feed the unspoken expectations, we we cannot grow a dick, and therefore any success will be viewed as inflammatory, and challenging to the higher ups.