Hoping to Avoid the Boredom of a Life in Business

While women in business fret about breaking through the glass ceiling, teenage girls don’t even want to be in the building. So we gather from a study commissioned by Simmons College School of Management and a businesswomen’s group called The Committee of 200. Polling and focus groups were conducted among kids in grades 7-12. Girls certainly don’t expect to sit back while a husband provides for them. Eighty percent believe they’ll need to make enough money “for me and my family,” and another 17 percent expect they’ll need to make enough to support themselves. A mere 3 percent think “someone else will support me.” Nonetheless, girls would prefer to make their money in some field other than business. In an open-ended question about the sort of work they’d most like to pursue, just 9 percent of girls (and 15 percent of boys) listed a business career. Nearly half the girls (49 percent) cited “other professions” (including law and medicine) as their top choice, and another 7 percent mentioned science/engineering/technology careers. At the risk of sounding like Miss America contestants, 55 percent of girls said an opportunity for “making the world a better place” is highly important in their choice of a career. Even more of them (73 percent) said the same of “helping others.” Boys, by contrast, feel the world would be a better place if they were filthy rich. Thus, 75 percent of the lads (vs. 56 percent of girls) said “making lots of money” is among their main career goals. Boys are also keener on running the show. The study found girls and boys rate themselves equally on leadership skills and are “equally likely to be leaders in their clubs and teams.” Looking ahead to their working lives, though, 22 percent of girls (vs. 37 percent of boys) said “being in charge of other people” is highly important to them; 37 percent of girls (vs. 51 percent of boys) assigned great importance to “being my own boss.” Girls don’t need the aggravation—or expect to get enough in other parts of their lives. The study’s focus-group sessions found girls especially likely to describe life in business as “constraining, boring or stressful.”