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5 Myths About Women and Work

May 1, 1998
Related Topics: Compensation Design and Communication, Diversity, Featured Article
In 1989, after a new leadership team took over the Toronto-based Bank of Montreal, managers identified that female talent was underutilized. A 1991 survey of the 32,000 employees uncovered five myths that stood in the way of women having full representation in senior positions:

Myth 1 was that women were either too young or too old to compete with men for promotions. Reality showed the men and women were, on average, the same age.

Myth 2 was that women had babies and quit; there was a perception that they were less committed to their careers. The reality was that although they did take time off for childbirth, they had longer service records to the bank at every level except senior management.

Myth 3 was that women needed more education. It turned out that the women in feeder positions to upper-level jobs had more degrees than the men in those positions.

Myth 4 was that they didn’t have the "right stuff," which wasn’t clearly defined, but the results indicated that women averaged higher performance ratings overall.

Myth 5 was that women would soon catch up. They did projections and found it was going to take far too long for this to occur.

After uncovering these myths and misperceptions, the bank’s team of HR professionals and managers went to work to effect major changes for the advancement of women in the organization.

Workforce, May 1998, Vol. 77, No. 5, p. 80.

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