THE “CREAM OF THE CROP”
The 1,476 women who responded to our survey were college-educated women who had spent an inordinate amount of time and money to ensure they could have the careers they wanted by investing in their human capital. In fact, over 60 percent had graduate degrees. They were professionals who had careers in business, medicine, academia, technology, law, and other traditionally male-dominated fields.
They were also married mothers (88 percent) in the center of their child-bearing and child-rearing years. The majority were between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-four, and 84 percent had children under the age of eighteen living at home.
While they may have been mothers, they were also committed to their careers. When we asked the respondents how career driven they would describe themselves, 60 percent told us they were “very” ambitious and 36 percent reported they were “somewhat” ambitious. They are (or, at least, were) the very women we would have expected to be at the top of their professions given their academic training and self-reported drive.
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THE WOMEN ON THE RISE RESPONDENTS
They are married, Gen X moms
• 76% are between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-four
• 88% are married
• 84% have children under the age of eighteen living at home
They are highly educated
• 99% have college degrees
• 61% have graduate degrees
They are mostly white and well-off
• 81% are white
• 78% live in homes with combined incomes of over $100,000
They are (or were) professionals
• 23% work or worked in Business
• 12% work or worked in Health Care/Medicine
• 12% work or worked in Academia/Education
• 11% work or worked in Technology
• 8% work or worked in Law
• 7% work or worked in Financial Services
• 7% work or worked in Nonprofit/Government
• 6% work or worked in Media/Journalism
• The remaining respondents listed “other” as their career/industry
AND YET … THEY PAUSED
While the respondents to our Women on the Rise (WOTR) survey had the education, ambition, and life foundation that should have ensured they would “lean in,” only 28 percent of these high-potential women had never paused their careers.
In fact, at some point 72 percent had either left the paid workforce completely for a period of time (52 percent) or had temporarily downshifted by working reduced hours (20 percent). Of the 52 percent who had completely left the paid workforce, 79 percent had relaunched their careers. Of the 11 percent of respondents who are still pausing, 83 percent plan to return to work. In other words, these women have not abandoned their careers. Rather, they are disrupting the traditional path by incorporating a temporary break in their careers in order to meet their personal goals. Of the Women on the Rise respondents, 72 percent paused their careers by either working part-time or leaving the workforce altogether.
Since You First Began Working, Has There Ever Been a Time When You Took a Voluntary.