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What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

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II. Biases and jumping off the ladder

MARCIA REYNOLDS, Psy.D.

The text for this essay is taken from: Marcia Reynolds (2007) Personal Factors of High-Achieving Women That Contribute to the Low Number of Executives in Corporations. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Professional School of Psychology, Sacramento, California, USA]

In an attempt to grasp the complexity of what is hindering the success of high-achieving woman in today’s corporate environment, a review of recent articles, books and research was done to determine if the factors that are hindering women from moving into the executive ranks are clear. The review included:
1. Subtle and obvious discrimination practices (gender biases, attitudes and behavior) in organizations that keep woman from earning top corporate positions. This includes how organizations measure leadership success and how this helps or hinders female leaders.
2. Personal reasons why women are jumping off the corporate ladder, self-selecting the interruptions in their career ascension.
3. Personal factors that impact the effectiveness of women who stay in their positions, hindering them from rising to the top positions or being effective once they are there.
4. Definition and criteria of being a “high achiever” and how this behavior differs in men and women at work, affecting promotional opportunities.
5. An examination of the relevancy of identified self-defeating behaviors of high-achieving women in U.S. corporations in light of the current generation to determine if these behaviors have evolved or completely changed over time.

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