Public debate and media coverage on the paucity of women in top-level corporate jobs has suggested that women, especially those with children, are less interested than men are in making it to CEO--that they'd rather not sacrifice time with their families to reach the top levels. A new Catalyst study of women and men in high-level executive positions (VP or higher) debunks this idea thoroughly. Women and men are, in fact, equally likely to aspire to top jobs; more than half (55% of women and 57% of men) who aren't already in top roles want to reach them. Women in line officer positions (82%) are even more likely than men in these positions (77%) to want to be CEOs.
Another 19% of women and 14% of men aren't sure whether they want the top job, while 26% of women and 29% of men say they don't want it. Contrary to the idea that having kids makes women less interested in holding high-level positions, women with children living at home (55%) are slightly more likely than those with no children (46%) to aspire to senior-level positions. Men with children at home (68%) are significantly more likely than those without children (32%) to aspire to senior-level positions.
That's not to say that having kids in the house doesn't affect the lives of women in executive positions in a different way than it does those of male executives. Female executives are more likely than males to employ outside domestic help and use childcare services, and to curtail their personal interests. Women are significantly more likely than men to forego or postpone having children for career-related reasons. Women are most likely to use flexible arrival and departure times, but they'd most like to be able to take sabbaticals, work a compressed week, and telecommute.
Three in 10 women (30%) say opportunities for women at their companies have improved greatly in the past five years, and 35% say they've improved somewhat. By comparison, 41% of men say the advancement opportunities for women at their companies have improved greatly, and another 41% say they've improved somewhat.