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7 Things We Learned From Lean In's Study on Women in the Workplace

By Patricia Garcia

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and McKinsey & Company recently released their Women in the Workplace study, which analyzed the state of women in corporate positions in the United States.

The study, which polled 118 companies and almost 30,000 employees, shed light on inequality in the workforce. Of all sectors, the study found that the greatest gender disparity occurs in the highest level of management (C-suite positions).

As Sandberg wrote in this week's Wall Street Journal, "If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto, and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices."

Here, seven other key findings from the Women in the Workplace study.

1. Men and women start off on relatively equal footing when entering the workforce (45 percent of entry-level roles are filled by female employees). By the time women hit the vice president level, however, participation drops to 27 percent. Even more discouraging, only 17 percent of women make it into C-suite jobs.

2. For all the talk of women leaning out of the workplace to raise a family, the study found that, at almost every stage of the corporate ladder, female employees are leaving their organizations at the same rate — or sometimes lower — than their male counterparts.

3. While women are roughly as ambitious about their careers as men in entry-level and middle-management positions, by the time they’ve progressed to senior level, women become less interested in continuing to advance. (The study found that only 60 percent of women want to continue on to a top job after reaching senior management, compared with 72 percent of men.) When asked why they’d pass on a promotion, more than half of women cited job stress and pressure, as well as the inability to balance work and family.

4. Women with children are 15 percent more interested in reaching the C-level suite than women without. This fact dispels the notion that female employees with families are less ambitious than their childless colleagues.

5. Only 28 percent of female executives in senior-level roles are very happy with their jobs, whereas 40 percent of men find fulfillment in their role. Women surveyed report that this dissatisfaction stems from feeling as though their gender is the main deterrent to their career advancement. Senior-level women also reported that they were consulted on important decisions at half the rate of their male coworkers.

6. Many of the corporations surveyed offer some sort of employee flexibility program, such as reduced or part-time schedules, telecommuting, and extended maternity and paternity leaves. Yet less than 2 percent of women and men take advantage of those part-time programs. More than 90 percent of women and men believe taking advantage of an extended family leave will end up hurting their career.

7. Since women make up only 17 percent of C-suite jobs, women are in turn less likely to find female mentors in high-executive roles. As a result, only 10 percent of senior-level women say they’ve had four or more executives help them advance in their career.

Learn more about Sandberg by watching her MAKERS story in the video above.

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Photo Credit: B Busco via Getty Images