Employers Must Protect their Investment in Recruiting and Retaining Women Executives

Women with advanced degrees are faring just as well as men in the economic downturn. Citing a report by the New York nonprofit research group Catalyst, The Wall Street Journal reports that women and men with M.B.A.s were roughly equally likely to be promoted or laid off. Among men, 36% were promoted and 10% lost jobs; among women, 31% were promoted and 12% lost jobs (the report considers the differences statistically insignificant).

This equality did not, however, extend to top-level executives where women senior leaders were more than three times as likely as their men counterparts to have lost their jobs because of company downsizing or closure. Gender-based stereotypes about leadership during tough times and limited access to informal networks and mentors may be partly responsible for the disparity, says Catalyst president and CEO Ilene H. Lang.

As a result, companies that pay a premium to recruit up-and-coming talent may not be effectively leveraging their investment in the leadership pipeline. Employers can protect their investment in recruiting and retaining high-potential male and female employees with effective performance management programs, sensitivity training, and keeping the focus on objective criteria rather than gender-based stereotypes.

male and female execs