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Catalyst Study Explodes Myths About Why Women’s Careers Lag Men’s

• Women seem to be paid for proven performance — women who changed jobs two or more times post-M.B.A. earned $53,472 less than women who rose through the ranks at their first job.

• In contrast, men seem to be paid for potential — men who had moved on from their first post-M.B.A. job earned $13,743 more than those who stayed with their first employer.

• Across all career profiles, men were more likely to reach senior executive/CEO positions than women; in the most proactive category, 21% of men advanced to leadership compared with 11% of women.

Women DO “ask,” but asking doesn’t close the gender pay or position gap. After their first post-M.B.A. jobs, there were no gender differences in whether or not high potentials negotiated for greater compensation (63% of women vs. 54% of men) or for a higher position when beginning their current job (19% of women vs. 17% of men). Even though these women negotiate for more when they change jobs, our research shows that women’s compensation growth was faster when they remained with the same employer, where they had proven performance, than when they started with a new employer, who paid based on potential.

Women are not seeking out slower career tracks. According to the study findings, women are less satisfied than men with their career growth. If women were intentionally seeking slower tracks, we would expect them to be as satisfied as men despite their slower advancement.

The same strategies don’t work equally well for men and women. Women must adopt strategies different from their male colleagues to advance their careers. When women were proactive in making their achievements known, they advanced further, increased their compensation growth and were more satisfied with their careers. They also advanced further when they proactively networked with influential others. Making their achievements known did not impact men’s careers. Rather, gaining access to influential others also helped men advance, and indicating a willingness to work long hours and conducting external scans for other opportunities helped men increase their salaries.