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Women Less Optimistic Than Men About the Future of Work

May 31, 2018

Decision-making authority and gender determine workers’ outlook on their future career, a new study finds.

WASHINGTON, DC, May 31, 2018—Women are less optimistic than men about the future of work, according to a new survey by Clutch, a leading B2B research and reviews firm. When asked how they view their future career, more than a quarter (27%) of working women feel worried or neutral, compared to 20% of men.

Workers overall have a positive outlook about their future careers, the survey finds. Over three quarters (76%) are optimistic about their future careers, compared to 1 in 5 workers (20%) who say they are worried.

However, gender differences correlate with other factors that impact optimism, including decision-making authority at work, according to the survey’s findings.

Men’s Optimism for the Future of Work Is Tied to Their Likelihood of Having Decision-Making Authority at Work

The survey suggests that men are more optimistic about the future because they are more likely to have decision-making authority in their job.

Higher levels of authority correlate with higher levels of optimism. For example, over 90% of  business owners and 80% of business managers say they are optimistic about their future career prospects, compared to 70% of employees who do not have decision-making authority.

Men are significantly more likely to hold leadership positions, compared to women. More than half of men surveyed (53%) are business owners or managers, compared to only 32% of women in leadership positions. Men are more likely to have a leadership position at work, compared women.

“I notice [men] never have to seek to be heard,” said Lisa Holmes, chief business strategist at Strategic Performance of Los Angeles. Holmes says she observed changes in her career opportunities when she adopted more competitive tactics.

Of the workers surveyed, only 10% identify politics such as changing gender roles as a factor that will have a high impact on the future of work.

However, research shows that businesses that prioritize gender diversity tend to earn higher profits, build more successful work processes, and have more meaningful relationships with colleagues and clients.

Critical Thinking Skills Valued More Than Digital or Technical Qualifications

People who are looking for work and hiring managers agree that critical thinking skills, including problem solving and adaptability, will be most important in the future.

Hiring managers are nearly twice as likely to value problem solving skills (13%) compared to digital or technical skills (8%), the survey finds. Skills individual contributors value for their future careers.

Among workers, more than a third (40%) rank critical thinking skills including problem solving and adaptability highest, compared to 14% who chose digital or technical skills.

The survey suggests companies that offer professional development training can help their employees build confidence-boosting skills.

Read the full report here:   

For questions about the survey, a comment on the findings, or an introduction to the industry experts included in the report, reach out to Michelle Delgado at [email protected].

About Clutch

A B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm in the heart of Washington, DC, Clutch connects small and medium businesses with the best-fit agencies, software, or consultants they need to tackle business challenges together and with confidence. Clutch’s methodology compares business service providers and software in a specific market based on verified client reviews, services offered, work quality, and market presence.


Michelle Delgado

[email protected]

(202) 869-3866