Catalyst, a research organization that studies and advises companies on women’s advancement in the workplace, released a study on Wednesday that revealed women may be getting paid less because they have less access to the “hot jobs,” or rather, career-advancing jobs. The study showed women are not getting put on highly-visible projects, in positions critical to a company’s mission, or given international opportunities. These are all hallmarks of “hot” jobs that predict advancement, according to Catalyst.
The organization studied and surveyed 1,660 MBA graduates who were already primed to hold these types of jobs. Catalyst found that the men in the group lead projects with bigger budgets (sometimes more than twice the size of women’s) larger teams, and a higher risk factor to the company.
It was also determined that although men got the international projects and riskier jobs, it was not because they were more willing to take them on than women. The study found that more men were given “employer-initiated” international assignments. Of those most willing, more men (35%) than women (26%) got those assignments, and more women (64%) than men (55%) were never offered the opportunity.
Yet, interestingly, women are getting more access than men to certain development opportunities. Within 18 months of completing a leadership development program, 47% of women versus 39% of men were assigned a mentor.
But all this training and mentorship does not necessarily lead to career leverage. The study revealed that mentors and programs are not as big of a predictor of success as the hot jobs are. 62% of respondents said high-profile assignments that gave them leadership experience had the greatest impact on their careers, while only 10% cited formal training programs as most influential. Also, even though more women were given training, the study found more men than women got hot jobs after being in formal leadership development programs, and more men were promoted within a year of program completion (51% of men vs. 37% of women).
Companies think that mentor and training programs are helping women but really they can just waste valuable time. Jena McGregor of The Washington Post wrote, “Mentors are great if they’re in actual positions of power, but all too often assigned mentorship just ends up meaning awkward relationships that feel more like an obligation for both parties than an asset. And as almost anyone who’s been through a leadership training program can attest, their value can range from nearly worthless to mildly helpful.”
While the study sill has not answered the question as to WHY men are given more important and higher profile jobs, it does provide a new explanation to why women get paid less, which is promising.
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