Sexual harassment, hostile work environments and subtle prejudice continue to be obstacles. Women of color face even greater obstacles to their progress and, as a result, are even less likely to occupy leadership positions. Balancing work and family can be a challenge that prevents women from seeking leadership positions. Women may tend to use less assertive tactics when seeking promotion because of concerns that they may encounter prejudice and gender stereotypes.
However, the fact that professional women do not themselves promote a well-deserved increase or promotion slows the rise of professional women to higher levels of leadership. Faced with these barriers to female leadership, professional women can employ several strategies to help address challenges. Catherine University's business programs prepare graduates to overcome barriers that prevent women's leadership and to thrive in their careers. Roughly eight out of ten Democratic and independent women and seven out of ten Republican women say it's easier for men to hold the highest positions in business and politics, which is at least 13 percentage points higher than the proportion of men in the corresponding groups.
Deep-seated attitudes and prejudices against women prevent professional women from obtaining the respect they deserve and from finding opportunities for promotion. Unequal expectations and the fact that companies are not prepared to elevate women are cited more than any other factor as one of the main reasons why more women are not in leadership positions in companies. Roughly four out of ten cite as significant barriers the fact that women are held to higher standards than men and that many companies are unwilling to hire women for high-level executive positions (43% each). As with the factors that hinder women's political leadership, there is little agreement on the main obstacles to female business leadership, although most Americans (men and women alike) do not believe that a lack of strength or management skills prevents women from occupying senior executive positions.
If we think more broadly about society, only 13% say that women currently suffer a lot of discrimination, and a further 44% say that women suffer some type of discrimination. When women see that there are few more women in leadership positions, it is more difficult for them to believe that they too can hold executive-level positions. In double digits, women are also more likely than men to say that voters are not prepared to elect a woman to higher positions and that party leaders give less support to women (41%), compared to the fact that, unfortunately, a lifetime of socialization that has taught women to seek perfection in themselves can also make professional women more risk-averse and therefore less as they go along. Men and women offer similar opinions about when women who want to reach senior executive office should have children, but there is a considerable generation gap on this issue.
In contrast, only 4% of Republicans and 8% of Independents say that discrimination against women is widespread; 36% and 42%, respectively, say that women suffer from any type of discrimination. Similarly, 50% of women say that many companies are unwilling to hire women for these positions, compared to 35% of men who believe this is a major obstacle to female leadership. Among those with a university degree, 81% of women say that the country needs to continue making changes to ensure equality between men and women in the workplace, compared to 60% of men. Millennial women, Gen Xers, and boomers are more likely than men to say that these are the main reasons why there are no more women business leaders.