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Why girls start ahead and women end up behind

Girls face inherent structural barriers preventing them from continue leading as women.
Girls face inherent structural barriers preventing them from continue leading as women.
Wikipedia Commons

Girls are often ahead of boys in schooling starting at an early age. In fact, girls stay ahead into the post-secondary graduate level, and even into their early careers. According to a survey, 59% of women were reported as being well-prepared for their first jobs, exceeding the reported 44% of their male counterparts.

However, the gender gap flips after the entry-level.

According to a survey from Bentley University, only 26% of women hold senior management positions and 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies were led by women CEO's in 2013.

Below are some reasons why girls starting ahead end up as women trailing from behind:

There are inherent gender biases and workplace stereotypes. According to the survey, 77% of men believe they are better suited for the business climate than women; only 41% of women believe they are better suited than men. Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University and founder of the school's Center for Women and Business, says, "Men are seen as better prepared for lifelong career success based on general perception rather than concrete evidence."

Women/girls lack parental encouragement to go into business, lack mentorship, and still struggle to maintain a work-life balance. As girls grow into women preparing to join the workforce, they find themselves lacking the structural support that boys and men have to succeed in the corporate environment. While 53% of men reported having had parental encouragement to go into business, only 46% of women reported family support in pursuing a career-driven lifestyle. Companies also admitted the difficulty of 21st century women in maintaining a work-life balance: an astonishing 64% of corporate recruiters agreed that family constraints held women back in their careers.

Men and boys are bigger risk takers. While women lead in decision-making and interpersonal/communication skills, the study has shown that men have a bigger entrepreneurial and risk-taking spirit. As bigger risk-takers, men may also find more opportunities to advance in their careers, while women have shown to play it safer and more practically.

How can families and schools empower girls to succeed beyond schooling? Hillary Clinton, a global political leader, has had much to say about empowering women and girls and offers some sage advice. Check out some favorite Hillary Clinton quotes here.

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