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It Could Be Your Husband, Not Your Kids, Holding Your Career Back

Short & Sweet

It's conventional wisdom that having kids creates a glass ceiling for the modern mom, right? Not according to a new study, which claims your husband's career is actually to blame for you not getting ahead in your job.

The Lowdown

A study of Harvard Business School graduates has concluded women are putting their career goals on hold so their spouses' stars can rise. Although most female HBS alumni reported expecting their careers to be given an equal chance to thrive, a different reality is emerging.

Researchers interviewed 25,000 men and women who graduated from HBS over the past few decades. The alumni's answers reveal that men hold a higher percentage of senior management positions. But that doesn't mean their female peers aren't working—quite the opposite. Nearly three-quarters of 32- to 48-year-old female graduates work full-time jobs. Only 11 percent of women reported opting out of the workforce to be full-time moms.

While the women are working, they acknowledge their careers are taking a backseat to their husbands'. A full 40 percent of Generation X and Baby Boomer women admit their male partners' trajectory to the top has been paved in part because they're making things work at, well, work, and at home. The husband's take on the scenario backs up the wives' claims, as 70 percent of the guys feel their careers should come before their wives'. The male participants also admitted their wives were shouldering most of the load at home, even if they worked outside the home, too.

The Upshot

According to researchers, the next generation may be attempting to balance the scales a bit. Still, half of male Millennial HBS graduates assume their careers will come first, and two-thirds expect that childcare will be mainly their wives' responsibility.

One approach to marriage cited in the Slate piece on the subject challenges the apparent norm: Find a man who isn't as career-oriented as you are, or couple up with someone much older, who is more likely to retire before you.

But what is the best way to get what you want out of your career? Discuss your expectations and goals with your potential mate before saying "I do." Then keep the conversation going.

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