Lindsay Olson

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The Path to Professional Success for Women

Gender and pay equality aside, the journey to professional success is quite different for women than it is men, based on the results of an annual survey from Citi and LinkedIn.

More Stops Along the Way

The survey results show that women expect to hold multiple jobs — as many as eight — over the course of her career, and that they are more likely than men to transition in their career several times. Add to that maternity leave and time off, and it can take longer for women to succeed careerwise.

And if you’re like many women (45%, in fact), you’re in a career that’s different from the one you thought you’d get once you graduated. That could be due to many factors, like:

  • Sluggish job market in the field you studied

  • Change of interest

  • The job you wanted doesn’t fulfill you like you hoped it would

What we can glean from this information is that women have a tendency to be more adaptable on their career paths. Being able to transition from one role to another takes time (and guts), as does reentering the workforce after taking time off.

Focus on Personal Goals

The key to success in the workforce is setting goals, no matter what your gender. Men and women almost equally feel they have achieved their goals (48% and 47% respectively).

But it’s not just setting goals that works for successful professionals; it’s actually working toward goals. It’s not enough to say “I want a promotion.” You’ve got to outline what steps you will take to make that a reality. Take on extra work. Make yourself more visible around the office. Present your boss with a list of accomplishments and assertively ask for the promotion and responsibilities.

But What Exactly Is Success?

Success looks different for every professional. And before you can set goals, you have to identify what success looks like to you. In the survey, “happiness” was the singlemost popular definition of what success was, regardless of gender or age.

But then, what is happiness? For women, that comes in many forms:

  • Doing what you love

  • Wealth

  • Work/life balance

Surprisingly, more men than women put more emphasis on marriage and children as part of the “having it all” equation. And 25% of women said it was important to have a solid relationship, but that marriage didn’t necessarily have to be a part of it.

And What Drives Satisfaction?

Another important component of the success formula is on-the-job satisfaction. The preferred perks varied between genders. For women, benefits like the following really drove contentment at work:

  • Professional development resources and training

  • Flex schedules/ability to work from home

  • Health/fitness related perks (i.e. gym membership)

  • Good maternity leave/paternity leave policy

It’s impossible to lump all women or men into a single group, but data like this is interesting as it does indicate overall trends. The key is knowing what drives you to succeed and to achieve your goals.

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