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Men vs. women: How gender can impact career aspirations

Rachel Nauen | February 24, 2017

Men vs. women

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, your gender may impact what you expect to get out of your career.

What does gender have to do with dreaming big?

Men are from Mars; women are from Venus? According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, your gender may affect what you expect to get out of your career. Men and women tend to hold widely different views on what level of job and annual salary they will reach during their lifetime.

"That's Mr. Boss Man to you."

Men are more likely than women to expect higher job levels during their career. Men aspire to reach every leadership position at a higher rate than women, more than doubling women's expectations to be a company owner and a vice president. Women's expectations tend to be much lower – over 22 percent of women expect to remain in an entry-level role, compared to only 10 percent of men.

Job level expected to reached



Company owner



Senior management (CEO, CFO, CTO, etc.)



Vice president









Professional/technical role



Entry level/administrative/clerical



Men also tend to believe they have a career instead of just a job (54 percent) compared to women (47 percent), and they are more content with career advancement (42 percent) than women (36 percent).

Satisfied with the status quo?

Today, over a third of women (34 percent) do not believe they earn the same pay as men with comparable experience in their organizations. Men are not as convinced about the wage gap; 82 percent say there is pay equality in their organization.

Despite differing career expectations and uncertainty around equal pay, women (63 percent) and men (64 percent) are similarly satisfied with their jobs overall.

Who expects the big bucks?

While salary isn't everything, it can be an indicator of how much responsibility workers have within their organization – and everyone needs to pay their bills.

When asked to estimate the salary they would ultimately reach in their careers, men were much more likely than women to report they expect to earn $100,000 or more. Forty-four percent of men say they expect to reach a six figure salary compared to 20 percent of women. On average, the highest salary men say they expect to reach during their careers is around $137,000. Women anticipate reaching around $79,000.

Men are more likely to get a pay increase (64 percent compared to 61 percent for women). Bonuses are also given more frequently to men (39 percent) than women (34 percent).

Asking for a raise or promotion

Regardless of your gender, asking for more money or a bigger title can be stressful. Here are some tips for having a successful conversation.

  • Research how your company handles raises and promotions. Sometimes companies only give them at a certain time of the year, after a specific amount of time.
  • Be prepared to defend your case. Arm yourself with evidence to support why you think you deserve this. It is better to be over-prepared, so don't be afraid to practice your pitch.
  • If the answer is no, stay calm! Ask your manager for concrete steps on what you have to do to get to the next level, and agree on an action plan.

For more tips, check out this helpful video.