Are mid-career female professionals like middle children, who “often feel ignored or have to try a little harder to be heard, and they don’t get enough praise compared to their siblings”? Writing in The Business Journals, Dana Manciagli suggests this scenario is one way to understand why many women’s career journeys stall.

To fight the stall, companies should capitalize on women’s interest in leadership, which increases as women progress up the career ladder, she writes. They also need to equip female managers with executive-level skills. Core competencies in which female managers score lower than men, according to data from staffing company Randstad and XBInsight, are “demonstrating financial acumen, exuding executive presence and managing risk.” The gap is an opportunity for development and training.

Manciagli cites a Catalyst report that project budgets reported by men were twice those for women. “Mid-career women are not working on the right projects to allow for on-the-job experience in demonstrating” those competencies in which women supposedly are deficient.

“To really move the dial on gender diversity at the highest levels, opportunities afforded to high-potential women must be comparable in size, scope and relative importance to the organization as those afforded to men,” Manciagli writes. And the onus is on companies. “Organizations must begin to dig deeper to uncover the specific reasons why their companies aren’t successfully fostering women leaders.”

Read Dana Manciagli’s article here, and then share your reactions and opinions on Step up.

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