A new report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company shows that while women have made gains in the workplace in recent decades, they remain underrepresented in senior leadership positions across industries.
The report, titled “Women in the Workplace 2022,” analyzed data from 423 companies employing more than 22 million people. It found that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 87 women were promoted. The gap widens further for promotions into senior management roles like vice president – for every 100 men promoted, only 82 women were.
The report also found disparities in perceptions of advancement opportunities. Only 85% of women said they believe they can advance at their company, compared to 91% of men.
“While companies have made progress in building more diverse workplaces, there is still more work to be done to ensure women and men have equal opportunities to advance into leadership roles,” said Alexis Krivkovich, a McKinsey senior partner.
The pandemic may have also disproportionately impacted women’s careers. About 1 in 3 women have considered downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether, according to the report. Reasons include increased caregiving responsibilities and burnout.
Advocates say companies need to actively support the advancement and retention of women through mentorship programs, flexible work options, and setting diversity goals for management roles. More transparent promotion and compensation practices could also help close gender gaps.
The McKinsey report also highlighted four prevailing myths that may explain why progress for women in the workplace has been slow:
Myth 1: The workplace is now a meritocracy. The data shows women are still promoted and hired at lower rates than men at every level.
Myth 2: Employees are no longer biased against women. Subtle biases continue to negatively impact women in hiring, promotions, performance reviews and compensation.
Myth 3: The problem is women opting out after having children. The report found parenthood only explains 20% of the gender gap in leadership roles.
Myth 4: There are too few qualified women for senior roles. Companies say women are well represented in their candidate pools but far fewer women are ultimately hired or promoted.
“Understanding and acknowledging these myths is an important step toward taking meaningful action to support the development and advancement of women leaders,” said Krivkovich.
Read the full report here.