Are women less ambitious than men?

Are women less ambitious than men?

An exclusive poll for Telegraph Wonder Women shows young ladies aspire to earn less than men during their career. Does this make women less ambitious or are other factors at play?  By Telegraph Jobs’ editor, Louisa Peacock.

We polled more than 1,000 young men and women on what they hoped to earn one day in their careers.

Some 16pc of women - one in six - aspire to take home more than £100,000 a year. One in five of the men surveyed said they hoped to earn this amount.

At the other end of the scale, 16pc of women said they hoped to earn up to £30,000 a year during their career - with no plans to earn more - compared to only 12pc of men.

In the same survey of 18 to 35 year-olds, carried out by Adzuna, the jobs search engine, exclusively for Telegraph Wonder Women, fewer young women said they wanted to become business owners or chief executives than men.

Some 22pc of men are aiming to run their own business one day, compared to only 16pc of women, the survey of 1,083 young people revealed. Six per cent of men would like to become a chief executive of a company, compared to just 3pc of women.  Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: "The Adzuna survey data clearly indicates that men and women in Britain today have very different career aspirations. With clear evidence that there is a positive link between women in leadership positions and business performance, the data suggests that we could be doing more to encourage young women in Britain to aspire to great things and positions of seniority in the workplace."

A report earlier this year revealed mothers are being held back from top jobs, however. The study, from the Cranfield School of Management, found that, while more women are being appointed to board-level roles, the elephant in the room is still childcare: that many women cannot climb the career ladder as many feel they have to give up work to look after their family.

The Government is trying to address the barriers women face in the workplace. Earlier this year in the Queen's Speech, the Coalition announced that parents would be able to take more flexible leave to care for their children under family-friendly laws.

From 2015, mothers will be able to return to work earlier and transfer their maternity leave to their partners under moves to help both parents share the burden of child care.

The Coalition is also looking to offer more opportunities for flexible working which parents can request throughout their son or daughter’s childhood.

However, some equality groups have raised concerns that shared parental leave will force mothers to return to work earlier than they want to, as employers will lean on them to get them back to work sooner as the changes would mean they no longer are entitled to a minimum of 26 weeks.

Is childcare the number one problem holding women back in the workplace, or are many women simply content to look after their children at home? Are women more or less career-hungry than men?

Despite a number of high-profile women at the top of some of the UK's best-known companies - Carolyn McCall at easyJet, Dame Majorie Scardino at Pearson, and Angela Ahrendts at Burberry  - there remains a significant lack of women in Britain's boardrooms.

But Dr Ruth Sealy, of Cranfield, warned at the launch of her report that employers and politicians underestimated just how big an issue the cost of childcare was when trying to seat more women at the top table.

"Childcare is prohibitively expensive. From a societal point of view it is still an issue," she said.

"Childcare is a red herring at board director level but at the age when women want to get back to work [after childbirth] it's a massive thing. People seem to not realise how massive a thing it is."

This article was originally featured on

Monday, 8 October 2012

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