New Research Explores Women's Representation in Senior Leadership Roles

While Women Continue to be Underrepresented in More Strategic Roles, they also Self-Rate Their Contribution Lower than Men

Jan 15, 2010, 09:00 ET from Novations Group, Inc.

BOSTON, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A research study measuring employee development and contribution by global talent development firm Novations Group, Inc. (www.novations.com) found that women continue to be underrepresented in strategic and leadership roles.  Additionally, the research shows that women self-rate their contribution slightly lower than men.

The white paper Close the Gap: Overcoming Gender Differences in the Workplace, investigates the discrepancies, explores some of the root causes, and recommends competencies women need to develop to overcome the perceived discrepancies.

Novations partnered with several leading organizations to study employee development and contribution. The research commenced in 2007 and the resulting data set includes information on the contribution and development of over 2,000 managers and direct reports. Contribution was measured using the Four Stages® of Contribution model (see below for more details).

The research exposed a higher representation of women in Stage 3 roles, more traditional manager roles, but a lower representation of women in Stage 4 roles, those focused on contributing strategically.

Table 1: Stage Representation




Gender/Stage

Stage 3

Stage 4

Men

42%

59%

Women

58%

41%




Additionally, the research shows that women self-rate their contribution slightly lower than men.

Table 2: Self-Rating




Rater

Dominant Stage (mean)

Men

2.47

Women

2.30




Table 2: Mean dominant stage rating by managers (on their direct reports) and by direct reports (self-ratings).  Dominant stage was defined as the stage selected most often to describe behavioral contributions in response to the 20 survey items.  

This means that men more regularly identified their contribution as Stage 3, or more influential and working through others, while women saw their contribution as more Stage 2, or less strategic.

"The underrepresentation of women in senior leadership positions has been well documented, but what was surprising was the discrepancy between the self-ratings of men and women," said Paul Terry, vice president of Global Partnerships for Novations.  "It certainly calls into question that there may be a correlation between this mindset amongst women and perceptions about their contribution from male counterparts."

Potential Causes and Strategies to Overcome the Discrepancies

Novations research is unique because of its recency and behaviorally-based approach.  The research findings and thirty years of development work allow us to provide insights into the potential root causes of the ratings discrepancies:

  • Socialized modesty: a plausible explanation is that women have been socialized to be modest about their work, particularly in areas traditionally deemed as "men's work."
  • Reluctance to showcase their own skills: women who do not self-promote are less likely to have their skills, abilities, and successes accurately assessed because these skills, abilities, and successes may be less visible.  
  • Different work styles: we need to consider that women tend to go about their work so differently that the benefits of their unique approaches to work go unmeasured -- or unnoticed.

Close the Gap outlines strategies women can embrace to achieve parity; from focusing on developing specific leadership competencies, to mastering the art of self-promotion.  The complete recommendations and white paper can be accessed online at: http://www.novations.com/publications/white_papers/close-the-gap-overcoming-gender-differences-in-the-workplace-,108.html

The complete Four Stages of Contribution research findings will be published in late Q1 2010.

About the Research

Novations partnered with several leading organizations to study employee development and contribution. The research commenced in 2007 and the resulting data set includes information on the contribution and development of over 2,000 managers and direct reports.  

Participating managers were asked to rank order their direct reports in terms of contribution and performance. By completing a behavioral and competency-based survey about each direct report, managers also assessed how their direct reports contribute to their respective organizations. The direct reports were asked to complete the same survey, providing their own assessment of their contribution

The current research is unique in two ways.  First, the data was collected purely for the purpose of research and, therefore, was in no way tied to performance appraisals or 360-degree surveys. Second, because of its ability to provide insight on the behavioral contributions of employees, the Four Stages® of Contribution model was used as the foundation for the current research.  

About The Four Stages® of Contribution model

The Four Stages of Contribution model is based on the research of Drs. Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson and provides a framework for increasing one's organizational impact and influence over time. According to Dalton's & Thompson's research, there is a direct correlation between a person's "stage" and his/her contribution to the organization. Over the course of their careers, employees can move through as many as four stages, as outlined below, although organizational needs and employee goals can affect movement between and within the stages.

  • Stage 1: Contributing Dependently
  • Stage 2: Contributing Independently
  • Stage 3: Contribution Through Others
  • Stage 4: Contributing Strategically

Organizations need employees who are continually learning and willingly accept

supervision (Stage 1) as much as they need employees able to mentor and coach (Stage 3). However, behaving in ways associated with latter stages means impacting a larger cross-section of the organization. Therefore, high performing organizations must ensure that people contributing within each stage are also developing behaviors associated with the next stage. This stretching and growing prepares employees to, over time, have greater influence in the organization. As employees develop their individual capacity, organizations also increase their overall capacity.

About Novations Group, Inc.

Novations is a talent development firm that provides consulting, training, and measurement solutions to create leadership and high performance at every level.  For more than 30 years we have partnered with organizations of all sizes to unlock the potential of their employees, with talent development strategies that establish a mindset for success, a framework for development, and a process for testing the effectiveness of their efforts. 

For more information, visit www.novations.com.



Media Contact:

Clint Poole

617-254-7600

cpoole@novations.com



SOURCE Novations Group, Inc.



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