Things are moving so slowly for women in corporate America, that "If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto, and return to Earth ten times before women occupy half of C-suite offices," wrote Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of Lean In, a nonprofit focused on women's advancement, in a Facebook post on Wednesday. That's over 100 years away.
The same day, Lean In and McKinsey & Company released Women in the Workplace 2015, a comprehensive study of the current state of women in the business world, in which 118 companies and nearly 30,000 employees participated.
In the companies surveyed, women hold 45% of entry-level jobs, and the number only keeps diminish as you go higher. Only 27% of vice presidents, 23% of senior vice presidents, 7% of C-suite executives are women. This may be an improvement from 2012, as the study points out, but it's only very slight (where the 100-year estimate comes from).
So, it's very clear that women are underrepresented at every single level in corporate America, but it's not because they drop out of the workforce at higher rates or because they have to juggle work and family.
Why, then? Well, here's what the study found:
The leadership ambition gap persists.
At every level, women are less eager than men to become top executives because "the path to leadership is disproportionately stressful for women."
Women experience an uneven playing field.
Women are nearly four times more likely than men to believe they have fewer opportunities to climb the corporate ranks and twice as likely to think that being a woman will make it more difficult for them.
Gender diversity is not widely perceived to be a priority.
74% of companies report that their chief executives are "highly committed to gender diversity," but less than half of employees actually think that's accurate.
Employee programs are abundant, but participation is low.
Workers are hesitant to participate in career development programs because they think they will be penalized. Plus, over 90% of women and men believe taking extended family leave will damage their reputation at work.
There is still inequality at home.
41% of women report doing more child care and 30% report doing more chores — even in households where both partners work full-time.
Women and men have vey different networks.
Men have mostly male networks, while women have mostly female or mixed networks, and since men are more likely to hold higher-ranking positions, women end up with less connections to senior leadership.
"Change is never easy, but we can achieve great gains faster than anyone believes," said Sandberg. "We reached the Moon in eight years of concerted effort — not eighty. Let’s bring that same urgency to this mission."