BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

What Influences Women’s Leadership and Career Decisions? Take the Survey

Posted by YWM on September 18, 2012

By Sherylle Tan and Claudia Raigoza, Claremont McKenna College

The number of women entrepreneurs has been on the rise for the past two decades (Jome, Donahue, & Siegel, 2006). According to the US Census Bureau (2007), women owned 7.8 million nonfarm U.S. businesses, an increase of 20.1 percent from 2002. This accounted for 28.7 percent of businesses in the United States. A relatively new trend in entrepreneurship is the idea of the “mompreneur,” defined by Entrepreneur.com as “a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of the mom and the entrepreneur.” However, at the same time that women are venturing into entrepreneurship, the media is claiming that many professional women are opting out of the workforce to take care of their children at home[i]. In 2003, Lisa Belkin first drew substantial attention to the “Opt-Out Revolution” in her appropriately titled article published in the New York Times Magazine.

Subsequent research on women leaving the workforce has suggested that women experience many pushes and pulls that result in some women exiting the workforce[ii]. A primary pull factor for many women has to do with family responsibilities, whereas push factors often have to do with workplace challenges that women experience which include hitting the “glass ceiling,” slow career advancement, and lack of work schedule flexibility.[iii] Interestingly, many of those same family pulls and workplace pushes are the same reasons that women enter into entrepreneurship[iv].

While the reasons that women enter in entrepreneurship are similar to the reasons that women choose to leave the workforce, it appears that the relationship is not so linear. There appear to be more complex reasons that account for why women make the career transitions that they do. The career decisions and transitions that women make during the course of their lives vary and are influenced by women’s life-stages.  With the increasing number of women becoming entrepreneurs and seeking leadership through non-traditional career paths, it is important to identify and understand the important influence of life-stages in the career and leadership decisions that women make.

The Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College is interested in developing a better understanding of this issue. Please participate in our study, by taking our online survey. Participation is completely voluntary and confidential. The online survey takes about 20-25 minutes to complete. In gratitude, you will be entered into a drawing to win a prize of a Kindle Touch upon completing the survey. Please go to this link to start our online survey:


If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the Kravis Leadership Institute, please feel free to contact Dr. Sherylle Tan (Director of Internship and KLI Research at the Kravis Leadership Institute) at stan@cmc.edu or go to our website: http://kli.cmc.edu/.

[i] Belkin, L. (2003). The Opt-Out Revolution. The New York Times Magazine.

[ii] Hewlett, S.A., Luce, C. B., Shiller, P., & Southwell, S. (2005). The Hidden Brain Drain: Off-Ramps and On-Ramps in Women’s Careers. Harvard Business Review Research Report. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

[iii] Stone, P. and Lovejoy, M. (2004). Fast-Track Women and the “Choice” to Stay Home. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 596, 62-83.

[iv] Buttner, E.H. (1993). Female entrepreneurs: How far have they come? Business Horizon, 2, 59.

Jome, L. M., Donahue, M. P., and Siegel, L. A. (2006). Working in the Uncharted Technology Frontier: Characteristics of Women Web Entrepreneurs. Journal of Business and Psychology, 21(1), 127-147.

Hewlett, S. (2007). Off-ramps and on-ramps: Keeping talented women on the road to success. Boston: Harvard Business School Press


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