London - March 1, 2013 -The majority of women (63 per cent) worldwide define professional success as having the right balance between work and personal life and nearly three quarters of women (74 per cent ) believe they can 'have it all', according to the What Women Want @ Work study* released today by LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network.
Women around the world feel confident about their careers and upbeat about their ability to have a fulfilling work and family life. A massive 77 per cent of the 5,300 global respondents consider their careers 'successful', while 67 per cent of those over 35 believe they can 'have it all'. On the issue of how children will affect career ambitions, however, women are split. The study found 57 per cent of those currently without children believe they will not slow down their careers, while the remaining 43 per cent feel they will.
Success - Then and Now
The survey found the meaning of professional success has changed dramatically over the past decade. While today most (63 per cent) of the professional women questioned define success as having the right balance between work and personal life, only 39 per cent of them prioritised this five to ten years ago.
Over the same period, the importance placed on salary when defining professional accomplishments decreased from 56 per cent to 45 per cent, while 'having an interesting job' came out ahead as a measurement for success at 58 per cent.
The Flexibility Factor
Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of working women would like greater flexibility within the workplace. A flexible work environment was trumpeted as the most important factor in determining the 'success of the next generation of professional women' according to 80 per cent of respondents, who deemed it more important than having a 'greater representation of women at senior levels' (70 per cent).
"As women progress in their careers, their definition of success seems to have transformed. Modern working women are not just striving for positions of power or a higher salary - today's professional women are far more likely to define success as having an interesting and fulfilling job and being able to successfully balance their work and home lives," said Ngaire Moyes, spokesperson for LinkedIn.
Women still face significant career barriers in the workplace. Forty-four percent of professional women from around the globe identified pay inequality as a major challenge. In addition, the lack of a career path (51 percent) and the lack of investment in professional development (47 percent) were perceived to be major inhibitors of professional success. Women in Sweden (67 percent), Brazil (65 percent) and the Netherlands (61 percent) felt particularly challenged by the lack of a clear career path.
Worldwide, issues such as the persistence of the 'glass ceiling' (23 per cent) and sexism in the workplace (19 per cent) were not perceived as widespread concerns for female professionals. A few countries bucked this trend however; 45 per cent of respondents in Germany and 39 per cent in Spain considered the 'glass ceiling' to be a major career challenge, while in India more than one in three (35 per cent) women claim to have experienced sexism in the workplace.
Only a small group of professional women felt their appearance played a major part in their careers today, with 71 per cent saying it is irrelevant or has no major impact on their career. That said, women in several countries maintained it still has a major impact on their careers including Germany (26 per cent), the US (21 per cent), and Singapore (20 per cent).
Top Tips: redefine success and take control of your career
Don't wait for your employer to give you guidance on your career path. Choose someone you admire at your company or elsewhere and look at the career steps they made to be successful - how long did they stay in their role? How often did they move to a new company? Check out the LinkedIn profiles of the professional women you admire most.
Seek out women who can act your mentor - a third of respondents cited not having a mentor as a major challenge in their career. Join LinkedIn groups for professional women in your industry or region and make new connections. Ask questions about what you should look for in a mentor.
If you don't ask, you don't get. If flexibility is an issue where you work, connect with other women on LinkedIn and gain advice on how to ask for flexible work hours and create a plan to present to your manager. Research positions similar to your own on LinkedIn to understand skills involved and pay scales so you can have regular informed conversations about your remuneration.
Save time and effort by using online networks to meet like-minded women professionals, mentors and key business contacts. Discuss with your peers how best to handle the pressures of juggling work and family, provide support and learn from each other. Can't find the time to attend networking events? Take a bit of time each day online to reach out to one key contact through LinkedIn.
*About 'What Women Want @ Work' Study by LinkedIn and Cross Tab Research
In February 2013 LinkedIn partnered with Cross-Tab to survey more than 5,000 working women across 13 countries in celebration and support of International Women's Day on March 8th. Over 400 respondents between the ages of 18-65 were surveyed in each market to better understand the challenges that women face in their careers, how women have viewed success in the past and what success means now, if professional women worldwide believe they can balance work and family and how online networks can help them with their careers.