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Study: Young women less likely to aspire to C-suite

Incoming GM CEO Mary BarraIncoming GM CEO Mary Barra
Incoming GM CEO Mary Barra

General Motors’ (GM) decision to name Mary Barra its next chief executive has been hailed as a breakthrough for women. The daughter of a die maker who spent 33 years at the U.S. automaker, Barra is setting a milestone in an industry long dominated by men.

Her rise to the top is indeed inspiring, and hopefully it will be one of many examples that help change attitudes about women and careers. Even though today’s young women are the first in modern history to start their careers making nearly as much as men, they have a pretty dim view of their prospects.

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Young women are less likely than their male counterparts to aspire to a job in the C-suite, according to a study released Wednesday by Pew Research Center: 34% of women 18 to 32 years old said they aren’t interested in becoming a boss or top manager, while only 24% of young men said the same.

The gender gap on this question widens among working adults in their 30s and 40s, when many women grapple with work and motherhood. Fifty-eight percent of men and 41% of women ages 33 to 48 said they aspired to someday be a boss or a top manager, according to Pew’s survey of 2,002 adults, which included 810 millennials ages 18 to 32. Among adults ages 49 to 67, 32% of men and 21% of women said they would like to have one of the top jobs.

Women have made gains in education and in the labor force in recent decades, but the survey suggests women still feel it’s a man’s world.