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Holding Women Back: Why Women are Under-Represented at the C-level

The deck is stacked against women from the earliest days of their careers, according to new research from DDI. Holding Women Back: Troubling Discoveries and Best Practices for Helping Female Leaders Succeed explains gender discrimination in the 21st century workplace, and discusses why formal succession management and development programs can increase gender balance in leadership roles.

“Holding Women Back” is a special report from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2008/2009, a biannual study that measures the impact of leadership development initiatives around the world. The study included data from more than 12,000 leaders from 76 countries.

What does the research reveal?

  • Female leaders are under-represented in accelerated development programs early in their careers, which hinders their climb up the ladder.
  • Because many of the accelerated programs (like high-potential programs and one-on-one mentorship) are secret or happen behind closed doors, organizations aren’t held accountable for gender balance.
  • Having women represented in significant numbers at every leadership level doesn’t mean that will carry to the executive levelin fact, there is a backlash against women at the top when they are dominant in leadership roles at every other level.

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