Success comes in many forms, but a new study suggests that when it comes to how we define success in our careers, our gender plays a major role.
The study, which brands itself as the largest scientific study of gifted individuals done anywhere in the world to date, was conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education.
"For men and women alike, we found that those who were identified as talented at this early age have gone on to generate creative contributions, become leaders in their professions, earn high incomes and be pleased with the quality of their lives," the researchers say.
The study began life in the early 1970s when around 1,600 youngsters were identified as being especially gifted individuals. By gifted here, we mean in the top 1% in terms of ability. This cohort are now aged around 50 with well-developed personal and professional lives.
Indeed, around 35% of the group went on to earn PhDs, compared to a more modest 2% of the general population. There was a similarly disproportionate representation at the top of leading companies, universities and law firms. Many had published books, and there were over 7,500 academic articles published between the group. Oh, and nearly 700 patents had been registered by the group.
Fair to say they’d done ok in life. What’s more, the majority of the group regarded themselves as pretty happy and satisfied in other aspects of their life, such as their personal relationships.
The gender difference
There was, however, a noticeable difference when the career paths of men and women in the group were compared. Men, for instance, were found to be more likely to go into STEM related fields, either heading up a company or leading a research institution.
Women, by contrast, were more likely to go into education or healthcare. The researchers found a relatively equal spread of genders in fields such as finance and law. Interestingly, however, just 65% of women were in full time work, compared to 90% of the men.
This difference was also highlighted in the salaries of the two sexes. Men were found to earn $60,000 more than their female peers.
What does success look like?
When it came to success, a good proxy of your priorities would be the kind of things you devote a lot of time to. For men, this was overwhelmingly their careers, with many devoting 50+ hours a week to this. Women, however, defined success more widely, which included family and community involvement.
This was subsequently reflected in the values amongst the group. Men reported valuing full-time work, earning a lot of money and making a professional impact.
By contrast, women revealed greater work life balance, a strong community and time for family as being particularly important.
"What is most interesting about these latest findings," the researchers say, "is the number of variables at play. Men and women valued career choices, community and family somewhat differently in constructing lives that were satisfying, yet both were equally happy with their outcomes. Both genders used their intellectual abilities to create resources for themselves, and with those resources come choice and the ability to exercise preferences."
Do we have similar values in today’s generation do you think? Is there greater equality between men and women in today’s generation?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
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