Be Leaderly Releases New Research Report on How Men and Women View Stretch Opportunities

Landing a coveted stretch assignment is a proven shortcut to a top executive role. Do men and women see stretch assignments the same way?

Cedar Rapids, IA, January 23, 2019 --( Be Leaderly, a nationally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and inclusion solutions, released a new research report today focusing on professionals’ perceptions of stretch opportunities. The report sample, comprised of professional men and women in the US, found that working women (51%) have equal, if not slightly greater, ambition than men (48%) to move into top roles ranging from VP to the C-suite.

The report points to steps companies can take to offer stretch assignments that are accessible and meaningful to both men and women: "We know stretch opportunities can be disproportionately career-making, especially in reaching top ranks – and yet women consistently obtain fewer of these plum assignments," said Selena Rezvani who led the study for Be Leaderly. "The more coveted the stretch opportunity, often the more unclear the path is to obtain it. That perception, plus a lack of organization-wide oversight over who gets stretch opportunities, can hinder women’s involvement."

The study highlights that a significant part of any stretch role involves assessing one’s own perceived readiness. Be Leaderly data shows that women (55%) are less likely than men (65%) to be comfortable applying for a stretch role with only the "bare minimum" requirements - and women (73%) are more likely than men (60%) to disagree that they round up their skills - rather than round down - when considering a stretch opportunity.

Male and female professionals alike are motivated to take on stretch assignments when there are key factors in place, like personal influence to lead an assignment to a positive outcome (40% women, 43% men) and alignment of the assignment with career goals (33% for both men and women). Men and women also cite similar personal considerations in evaluating a stretch role - including concerns around bandwidth, hours worked, family, and work/life balance.

Yet men and women differ in prioritizing the importance of exposure to key mentors and sponsors in a stretch assignment, where women (18%) are more likely to prioritize this factor than men (11%). Be Leaderly research also reveals that men are 3.5 times more likely than women to cite "pay" as an important stretch assignment determinant. The latter finding suggests a different expectation concerning stretch assignments – one where for men, there is a stronger expectation of reciprocity.

Strikingly, the study data affirms that professional women (67%) are less likely than men (77%) to be "engaged and passionate in their role." And in a potentially related finding, women are significantly more likely than men to disagree that with the statement, "My company makes it easy for me to gauge my readiness to advance internally."

"Women and men alike, will need to continually up-skill if they’re going to compete in the future of work," says Jo Miller, founder and CEO at Be Leaderly. “Organizations that engage talent with a thoughtful and equitable approach to stretch assignments won’t just engage more of employees’ best contributions and thinking, they’ll enable more women to carve out paths to the top of organizations."

To view the report findings, visit

Research Authors
Jo Miller is dedicated to helping women around the world advance into positions of leadership and influence. Through keynotes, workshops, and webinars, she shares the steps women can take to succeed. Jo speaks at leadership conferences, professional associations, and corporate women’s networks at companies like Amazon, eBay and Microsoft. Each year she delivers more than 70 presentations to audiences of up to 1,200 women in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. Jo writes columns for Forbes, The Muse, and Business 380 Magazine. Jo is CEO of Be Leaderly.

Selena Rezvani is a recognized consultant, speaker and author on women and leadership. Selena uses workplace culture assessments to help corporate clients be more inclusive and welcoming to women. She’s also the author of two leadership books for professional women – Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders (Praeger, 2009). Selena has led numerous research studies on women in the C-suite, millennials, managers, and negotiating habits, which have been covered by international media. Selena is Be Leaderly’s VP of Consulting & Research.

About Be Leaderly
Be Leaderly is dedicated to helping emerging women leaders advance into management and leadership positions. Clients include Amazon, Bank of America, Boeing, eBay, GM, Homeland Security, MetLife, Microsoft, Society of Women Engineers, the USDA, and 400+ organizations in the commercial, academic, nonprofit and government sectors.

Be Leaderly works with organizations to develop a pipeline of qualified and engaged emerging women leaders. Its corporate programs help women employees gain clarity on how their talents can contribute to the organization’s success and the tools necessary to own their career advancement. In addition to consulting and research, Be Leaderly offers workshops, webinars and keynotes by Jo Miller and Selena Rezvani.
Be Leaderly
Jo Miller