Social Support Needed for Women Crossing the Wage Gap

Social Support Needed for Women Crossing the Wage Gap

Quebec City (Quebec) 25 April 2015 – Long-standing latent sexism in the workplace may still be the reason many women are held back from executive positions, but a growing number of high-powered women are pointing to social and cultural issues beyond the workplace for the ongoing lack of women in power.

Throughout Québec, women hold about 17% of executive or deciding roles in enterprises, both public and private.  As society becomes more accepting of women in power, the lack of women gaining access to these highly paid, influential, and powerful positions has raised some uneasy questions.  In November of 2012, CAQ party leader François Legault had drawn intense criticism for tweeting that women simply lacked ambition in the workplace, preferring to focus on their family lives.  Despite the political misstep, he may have said out loud what many are thinking in silence.

Women are indeed significantly more likely than men to turn down promotions if they perceive their new duties would have a negative impact on their family lives.  They are also more likely to perceive a new position would have such a negative impact in the first place.  Those who do accept are also much more likely to experience strong feelings of guilt, either internally-driven or externally-imposed.  This is made much worse with women who have young children, crippling women in their career-making 30s and early 40s and making it much harder for them to catch up.

In response, Isabelle Hudon, Executive Chair of Sun Life Financial in Québec, joined with a group of other high-powered women to form l’Effet A, which aims to promote ambition among women.  Among their goals is to encourage women with healthy personal ambitions not to view their role as strictly primary care-givers in the home, and to take on their roles in the workplace with more eagerness and less guilt.

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