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NYT: Women Give Reasons Besides Sexism For Why They Didn’t Become CEO

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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Female executives cited reasons other than sexism for their failure to reach the top of their professions, according to a New York Times profile on women in business.

The New York Times spoke to numerous female chief executives and women who came close to becoming CEOs of their companies about why more women don’t hold the top position in business. While some women blamed it on bias and sexism, other women gave answers that pointed to a lack of confidence in their abilities and growing discouraged along the way to the top.

Here are four reasons other than sexism that women gave for why they didn’t make it to CEO:

1.) Deciding not to work overseas

Jan Fields, president of McDonald’s USA from 2010-2012, said one “handicap” to her becoming a chief executive in the company was her refusal to work overseas.

One handicap to becoming the chief executive, she said, was her own choice not to work overseas. “I thought so many of the countries we were going into were so against women,” she said. “I thought, I don’t need that.”

2.) Getting “outmaneuvered” by office politics 

An anonymous female executive who used to work at a Fortune 500 company left the company after not knowing how to handle the office politics when at the top of a company.

She was seen as a possible successor to the chief executive, but she said she was unprepared for corporate politics at the very top. ” Before heading to the C-suite, I didn’t feel handicapped at all, ” she said, echoing conversations with many other women. But the next rungs of the ladder depend not only on results, but also on prevailing in an environment where everyone is competing for a chance at the top job.

Her turning point came when she was outmaneuvered by male colleagues during a corporate reorganization. Believing she was not going to rise further, she asked for an exit package.

3.) Not speaking up for themselves 

Gerri Elliot, a former senior executive at Juniper Networks, did not experience bias at her work, but told a story from a colleague about women not coming forward with knowledge they have.

A presenter asked a group of men and women whether anyone had expertise in breast-feeding. A man raised his hand. He had watched his wife for three months. The women in the crowd, mothers among them, didn’t come forward as experts.

4.)Lacking self-confidence 

Shelley Diamond, chief client officer at Young and Rubicam, noted her lack of confidence in herself often held her back.

Early in her career, she said, “My biggest Achilles’ heel was my own confidence in myself and my ability to accomplish a task that seemed daunting and scary.”

A recent study reported that women may avoid leadership positions out of unhappiness and not seeing a benefit in what they may have to sacrifice to get there. (RELATED:STUDY: Women May Avoid Leadership Position Out Of Unhappiness)

“Women feel less happy than men when they occupy managerial positions, and expect to make more tradeoffs between life and work in high level positions. This points to a different way of understanding the problem and potentially solving it,” Francesca Gino wrote in a Scientific American analysis of the paper.

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