An exclusive online survey of Conference attendees conducted by Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business found that only 6% of women felt they were “very well prepared” for career success when they first entered the professional workplace, while 19% reported being “moderately well prepared” and 46% said they were “somewhat well-prepared.” Nearly a third, 30%, said they were “not at all prepared” for career success.
Another question asked what competencies and skills women needed to acquire on the job in order to succeed. Nearly 80% reported “analytic skills and critical thinking” were most important. 72% said they needed “quantitative skills, financial skills, interpersonal and team-building skills,” while 66% said “oral communication skills” and 59% said “written communication skills.”
“Our results show that women still have a long way to go in feeling prepared for the workplace and in advancing once they get there,” said Toni Wolfman, executive adviser of Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business. “Colleges and universities can do more to help them feel prepared. And professional development and mentoring continue to be critical for women as they progress through their careers.”
Asked where they are learning new competencies and skills for career success, 64% reported from “on the job feedback from co-workers” and 63% reported from “mentors.” 56% said they learned from “outside training programs, including university or college non-degree programs” and 55% reported from “in-house training, including formal career development programs.”
Of those surveyed, 12% reported that their companies prepared women “very well” for advancement to leadership positions, 21% said “moderately well”, 30% said “somewhat well” and 38% reported “not at all.” Asked about mentors, 54% of respondents said their primary mentor was a woman and 40% said it was a man.
How well prepared were you for career success when you first entered the professional workplace?
Not at all prepared 30.7%
Somewhat well prepared 45.9%
Moderately well prepared 19.3%
Very well prepared 6.1%
Since entering the workplace, what competencies and skills have you needed to acquire on the job in order to succeed?
Oral communication skills 65.8%
Written communication skills 58.8%
Analytic skills and critical thinking (e.g., assessing pros/cons, implications, etc.) 77.8%
Quantitative skills, financial skills Interpersonal, team-building skills 71.6%
Where are you learning new competencies and skills for career success?
In-house training at your company, including formal career development programs 54.8%
Outside training programs, including university or college non-degree programs 56.1%
College or university degree programs 23.8%
On the job feedback from co-workers 63.6%
How does your company prepare women to assume increasing levels of management?
My company does not have a formal program to prepare women for increased management responsibility 34.9%
In-house training at your company, including formal career development programs 44.0%
Outside training programs, including college or university non-degree programs 27.8%
College or university degree programs 14.1%
Formal mentoring or sponsorship programs 24.9%
Executive coaching 21.2%
Job rotation 16.6%
How well does your company prepare women for advancement to leadership positions?
Not at all 38.2%
Somewhat well 30.3%
Moderately well 21.2%
Very well 11.6%
If mentored, was your primary mentor a woman or a man?
Financial Services (including banking, insurance, securities, venture capital, real estate) 15.2%
Life Sciences (including biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical devices) 5.4%
Manufacturing (including design, creation, assembly of all products not in the life sciences, technology or utility fields) 5.9%
Professional Services (including accounting, architecture, consulting, law) 18.6%
Retail-Wholesale & Consumer Goods (including restaurants, stores, sale of products online) 6.9%
Social and Government Services (including education, healthcare) 27.9%
Technology (including devices, hardware, software) 13.7%
Utilities (including distribution, manufacturing) 6.4%
Currently employed 76.6%
Not employed 5.3%