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Wizehire’s 2024 Women in Leadership Report reveals challenges fueled by a resurgence of traditional values among young adults, a widening leadership gap, and the need for DEI initiatives

The survey also revealed younger Americans have less progressive views on a female U.S. president; however, most Americans will vote for a qualified female presidential candidate.

Wizehire, an end-to-end hiring solution for growing small and medium-sized businesses, today unveiled findings from its first Women in Leadership Report, a comprehensive study exploring the evolving dynamics of women in the workplace. The report surveyed a sample size of 2,506 individuals representative of U.S. adults. The report sheds light on the changing perception of women in leadership and the barriers they face, including the “motherhood penalty” and a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, particularly in small businesses.

ounger Americans Have Less Progressive Views on a Female U.S. President

The survey found that 40% of U.S. adults are “very likely” to know someone who would vote for a qualified female presidential candidate, indicating a shift away from the belief that men are inherently better qualified to lead.

The highest agreement (45%) came from those aged 55 and older. Conversely, only 32% of 18-to 34-year-olds expressed strong agreement, suggesting younger Americans hold less progressive views on the topic than their parents.

Women Are Experiencing a Plateau Mid-Career

The report also found that 51% of women shared they had never been promoted to management, while the same is true for 41% of men. Moreover, promotions are infrequent, with 28% of workers reporting their last promotion was over five years ago. 27% of those aged 35-54 were last promoted to management over five years ago, with 25% of women in the age range feeling the sting the most. This suggests women are experiencing a plateau in their careers during the mid-career stage (35-45 years old), impacting their path to more senior roles.

Are Women Subject to a Motherhood Penalty?

The report highlights that balancing work and family responsibilities is the biggest obstacle for women in leadership, with 33% of Americans believing so. Of the total respondents, 43% were married women. Hostile work environments were a distant second, split evenly between men and women.

Conversely, 28% of men and women agree work shouldn’t influence a woman’s decision to start a family. Most respondents were women over 55 (32%), possibly indicating hindsight.

Regression in Attitudes Toward Gender Roles

Opinions differ on the significance of traditional gender roles in attaining success outside the home, but the scales are not equal.

An overwhelming 47% of Americans say it’s “very important” or “somewhat important.” Digging into the numbers further, most of those responding in this manner are 18-34 years of age (53% total): men (59%) and women (48%). Only 24% of Americans responded “not very important” or “not at all important.”

How did older Americans respond to the question? 40% of women and 50% of men 55 and over agreed it is “very important” or “somewhat important.” The numbers indicate that while roles outside of the home are evolving, there is a regression in attitudes regarding younger adults.

DEI Initiatives or Mentorship Programs

Most Americans (27%) reported that their workplaces lack diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and programs. Women reported this lack of DEI initiatives more frequently (30%) than men (25%).

Conversely, 22% reported that their workplaces offer DEI training. The numbers were even lower for diverse hiring practices (16%) and inclusive social events (16%).

Impacting these responses may be that nearly 50% of private sector employees work for small businesses where DEI initiatives are unavailable. Micro-businesses with fewer than 25 employees may lack the resources for such programs and training.

Creating More Equitable Workplaces

Despite the progress made for women in leadership, the glass ceiling is sometimes nearly intact. Wizehire’s survey comes at a time when younger adults are increasingly biased against women in leadership and when diverse and gender-inclusive workplaces are at risk since many companies are downsizing their DEI teams. Yet companies still have the power to make positive changes.

“Businesses hold the power to create more equitable workspaces where everyone has the opportunity to excel, boosting both business and well-being,” says Carmen Bryant, VP of Marketing at Wizehire.

For actionable solutions, view the entire report.

Summary

Wizehire’s 2024 Women in Leadership Report highlights the changing perceptions of women in leadership, the challenges women face, and the need for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the workplace. Despite a widening leadership gap and challenges associated with balancing family and work responsibilities, the survey results suggest Americans are ready for a qualified female presidential candidate. The report also highlights the need for more support for women in management positions, particularly during the mid-career stage, and the need for more DEI initiatives and mentorship programs to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

For more information about Wizehire’s Women in Leadership report, visit their website.

Methodology

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2,506 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between February 15 to 19, 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighed and represent all US adults (aged 18+).

In addition to the survey, the report utilizes data from diverse authority sources to analyze the representation of women in leadership roles.