Why Women Prefer Money to Career Titles

As women become more experienced and their self-confidence grows, their inclination to take risks declines

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By Pooja Singh


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Majority of women are confident in their personal and professional lives, but they are not keen on taking big risks when it comes to career advancement.

A new study of over 2,000 professional women, in the 18-64 age group, by professional services firm KPMG LLP says that seven in 10 (69 per cent) women are open to taking only small risks to further their career, while 43 per cent are open to taking bigger risks.

Playing safe

As women become more experienced and their self-confidence grows, their inclination to take risks declines.

The majority of women surveyed say they are generally confident in both their personal and professional lives. Seventy-two percent say they are confident in their professional lives, with 26 percent extremely confident and nearly half (46 percent) somewhat confident. Twenty-three percent are neutral.

When it comes to risk-taking, 45 per cent of those surveyed with less than five years of experience say they are open to taking big risks to advance their careers, versus 37 percent with over 15 years under their belt, says the "2019 KPMG Women's Leadership Study", Risk, Resilience, Reward—Mastering the three R's: The key to women's success in the workplace.

"When it comes to their careers, many women find themselves in a bit of a bind. They're trying to preserve their gains, so instead of playing to win, they're often playing not to lose – whether hesitating to take perceived big risks, or feeling the need to take outsized chances," says Michele Meyer-Shipp, KPMG's chief diversity officer, in the press release.

Money matters

The survey notes that women do see the benefits of risk-taking. According to 40 per cent of those surveyed, the number one perk of taking risks is the opportunity to make more money. This factor ranks equally high across all experience levels and among women across all ethnic/racial groups. Yet, only a third of women surveyed (35 per cent) say they're confident about asking for a higher salary, finds the study.

Over 50 per cent believe people who take more career risks progress more quickly than others. They cited potential benefits of increased risk-taking including career advancement, increased confidence, personal development and building respect among colleagues.

Good habits are key

The study shows that women believe hard work is the key to success. Only eight per cent of the respondents said that risk-taking has contributed most to their professional success; they instead credit task-oriented factors over leadership traits.

They attributed success to good habits such as working hard (73 per cent), being detail oriented (45 per cent), and organized (45 per cent). The study says they were less likely to point to attributes such as being strong-willed (24 per cent), creative (18 per cent) or a good leader (17 per cent). Only 43 per cent say they have talked about their accomplishments or raised their personal external visibility over the past three years.

"Women may benefit by taking more risks over the course of their careers, but they can't go it alone," says Meyer-Shipp.

"Organizations must provide supportive structures including inclusive and diverse workplaces, professional development, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, all of which set up women to achieve, thrive and reach the highest levels," she adds.

Pooja Singh

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific


A stickler for details, Pooja Singh likes telling people stories. She has previously worked with Mint-Hindustan Times, Down To Earth and Asian News International-Reuters. 

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