Research Says: The Man’s Way May Not Be The Best Way (at least not for professional women)

imgres-1Study: The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All The Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? (Nancy M. Carter and Christine Silva, Catalyst 2011)

Finding: Closing the career advancement gap may require women to play by a different set of rules

Note about The Woman Effect Research Index: This study was performed by researchers not affiliated with InPower Women. Our Research Index includes all relevant research to the subject of women, business and power. We do not influence how the research was conducted or reported by the researchers. In our abstracts, we focus on pulling out the most actionable advice for individual women. To suggest additional research we should index, or discuss our choice of abstract focus, please contact us

InPower Insight: Speaking up and owning your accomplishments while seeking out connections with powerful individuals may be the ticket to true career satisfaction and success.


Good News! Studies are finally showing that the man’s way may not be the best way, at least not when we’re discussing the tactics both men and professional women use to climb the corporate ladder. This study begins to turn on their ear some of the accepted “truths” about why women advance at a slower pace than men. This study suggests that “reasons” women don’t advance – such as the “fact” that women purposely seek slower paces of advancement for job satisfaction reasons, and that women don’t vocalize their interest in advancement opportunities – are probably bunk. The best part about the data underneath the truth of these myths is that we can utilize this study to define what is working for women, and make strides to close the career advancement gap.

As published on, Carter and Silva report in detail about the four most commonly used strategy profiles for career advancement and why women aren’t getting the same response to the same tactics that men are receiving. Using 3,345 post-MBA high-potential men and professional women as a base for this study, Carter and Silva revealed their findings about how using advancement strategy profile behaviors (used by climbers, hedgers, coasters, scanners) is far more successful for men than it is for women, even when used in combination. They note that men appear to be being paid based on potential while women are paid based on their proven performance, thus making one standardized set of tactics for both genders inadequate for equal results. The study found that women benefit most in the areas of salary growth and satisfaction, from making their achievements known and by accessing positive connections with those in power positions

Career Coaching Tip: Talk about your successes, and help others see how your past success positions you for even greater future success. If you just got a negative feeling when you read that last sentence that verbalizes as something like “I don’t want to be a braggart!” then you’re putting too much baggage into this tip. If you don’t want to be a braggart, then don’t be. There are lots of ways you can speak about your success in a factual and straightforward way. Learn to do it. Be proud of it. Make sure others know what you can do because they know what you’ve done. Network with people who can help you. You don’t have to have an official mentor or sponsor, the more people in higher places that think well of you and can help you the better. Call on them and ask them for advice and insight. Make a point to meet one new person who can help you every month, or every week!

View a Free Webinar given by InPower Women’s Dana Theus reviewing this research and ways you can use it to advance your career.

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Photo Credit: Dave Shafer

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