One reason women are under-represented at the top is that many women choose to leave the corporate ladder rather than pursue advancement. Bob Sherwin, COO of leadership researcher Zenger Folkman, seeks to explain why in an article on Business Insider. The reasons women stop fighting for the top are complex, he concedes, but he uses three statements women might make to explain their departures. These are: “I don’t want the role”; “I can’t succeed in the role”; and “I can’t have the role.”

Sherwin cites research that suggests women are slightly less interested in advancement in their organization than are men. Additionally, in many cases “the importance of work-family balance—especially motherhood—outweighs the leadership opportunities being offered by organization,” he writes. Many women who work outside the home carry the “double burden” parenting commitments that make climbing the ladder less important.

Some women do not believe they can succeed because of cultural factors that discourage them about their chances for success, Sherwin argues. “Our interviews with women reveal that they feel they must consistently outperform their male counterparts in order to obtain equal career treatment. It’s the oft-heard saying that ‘we must perform twice as well to be thought of as half as good.’”

Organizational barriers that deny advancement to women create the “I can’t have the role” explanation. Writes Sherwin: “These would include hiring and promotion processes that would favor men, and inflexible hours or similar work condition policies that penalize women who—as a group—often accept more home/family responsibilities than men.”

Read the complete Business Insider article here. Step up and join the conversation. Add a comment and share your opinions about this tripartite explanation for why some women leave the corporate ladder.

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