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Companies are starting to lose the few female leaders they have

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: How do women feel about their place in corporate America? Rachel Thomas of leanin.org says they are showing how they feel.

RACHEL THOMAS: Women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rate we've ever seen. We already know women are underrepresented in leadership, and now companies are starting to lose the precious few women leaders they do have.


Leanin.org is an initiative from the Sheryl Sandberg and David Goldberg Family Foundation, and it just released its annual report on women in the workplace. It found that women are walking away from their jobs because they are less likely to make it to the top.

THOMAS: So in a typical organization, about 60% of managers end up being men and only 40% end up being women. That means there's fewer women to promote at every level - director, VP, SVP. And so organizations - they have a pipeline problem. They don't actually have enough women rising through the ranks into leadership.

MARTIN: Thomas says that for women who do get prized promotions, it's hard to keep a work-life balance. She says women often find themselves doing double shifts, taking care of business at the office and still doing more of the housework at home.

THOMAS: We also know, interestingly enough, as women and men get more senior, men start doing less work in the household, and women actually start doing more household work.

INSKEEP: Which younger generations are noticing.

THOMAS: Young women are looking up at the women leaders in their company, and it doesn't look good. So two-thirds of women under 30 say they would be more interested in advancing if they saw leaders with the work-life balance they want.

INSKEEP: Now, women who responded to this survey say they would like jobs where they can work remotely. This is not just because of the pandemic. It is also because of how women are frequently treated at the office.

THOMAS: You know, hearing co-workers comment on your appearance in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. So all women, but particularly women of color and women with disabilities - they're experiencing less of that when they're outside of the office.

MARTIN: And if women felt more comfortable in the workplace, they might be able to stay on the job longer.

THOMAS: Which will likely lead to more advancement and more money for those precious women leaders. So it will set off, I think, a virtuous cycle in organizations. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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