A recently-released Catalyst report finds another reason why a gender gap continues to persist in senior management levels. It appears that women are not offered enough opportunities to experience the so-called “hot jobs” that will help them advance. This was one of the key findings in their report Good Intentions, Imperfect Execution? Women Get Fewer of the “Hot Jobs” Needed to Advance, the sixth in their longitudinal project The Promise of Future Leadership: Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline that studies the retention and advancement of high-potential women and men.
“Hot jobs” refer to the high-visibility projects, mission-critical roles, and international experiences that do most to advance the careers of talented employees regardless of gender. In a survey of 1,660 respondents, Catalyst found that more opportunities were given to men in these areas than women which helped shape the course of their careers.
More men reported working on larger and more visible projects which are “perceived to carry more risk to their companies.” Specifically, there were more than three times as many employees in men’s project teams compared to those held by women. Moreover, 35 percent of men versus only 26 percent of women revealed getting “C-suite visibility to a very great extent while working on projects.”
Insofar as mission-critical roles were concerned, 30 percent of men compared to only 22 percent of women were given a budget responsibility of more than $10 million and 77 percent of males versus 70 percent of females were asked to manage direct reports. Responsibility for profit and loss was also given more to men as well (56 percent versus 46 percent).
While a similar number of high-potential men and women were part of global teams when they worked for a multinational firm, male respondents reported getting more international work opportunities whether through “extensive travel or relocation.” Interestingly, the reluctance of women to relocate is not the reason why they are not getting the international assignments that is an important predictor of career advancement. The survey found that the offers were given more to men: Employer-initiated assignments were given to 35 percent of men as opposed to only 26 percent of women while more women (64 percent) were never offered international relocation opportunities.
Formal leadership development training programs alone will not do the job of closing the gender gap in senior management. The Catalyst report concluded that for organizations to truly advance the careers of their employees, they must be strategic in both their planning and execution of development activities. To do this, they must ensure that “opportunities afforded to high-potential women must be comparable in size, scope, and relative importance to the organization as those afforded men.”