Women Want Five Things | A Center for Talent Innovation Report

Working women in the US, UK, and Germany are fiercely ambitious.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 16.29.11

Between the ages of 35 and 50, the vast majority of college-educated women working in white-collar professions (a whopping 91% of American women, 81% of British women, and 89% of German women) say they’re driven to succeed.

Fanning the flames of this formidable drive are women’s heightened wage- earning responsibilities: In the 35-to-50 age group, solid majorities of college- educated women (59% in the US, 72% in the UK, and 66% in Germany) earn at least as much as their spouses earn. Women in the prime of their working lives are also “unencumbered” in terms of childrearing: A stunning 38% of American women, 39% of British women, and 41% of German women in this prime-of-life cohort do not have children.

This report examines the flywheels of women’s fierce ambition: What drives them, what inspires them to remain fully engaged and on track for leadership roles. We find that across geographies, well-qualified women have a five-point value proposition. They want the ability to:


Women flourish and flower when they feel they have agency and impact; when they have the ability to self-actualize. Flourishing is grounded in health and well-being, as well as in freedom and autonomy. When women have a real measure of control, they can manage competing demands in ways that sustain their physical well-being, replenish their energy, and fulfill their emotional and spiritual needs.


Women want intellectual challenge in order to grow their mastery and ace a domain of knowledge or an expertise. But since an approving audience is what inspires mastery and the pursuit of excellence, women also want recognition.


Women find work meaningful when it allows them to model success and exceed expectations—their own, and those of their family or community. It’s important to women to achieve stretch goals set before them or their team and to have lasting impact in their profession or field. Women find work particularly meaningful when it helps advance causes important to them.These causes center on improving lives through health and education, advancing social justice, and healing the planet.


Women seek sponsors: senior colleagues who are willing to take a bet on them and advocate for their next big opportunity. They also seek protégés: High-achieving junior colleagues who deepen their capabilities, extend their reach, and burnish their brand.


Women say it’s important to them to attain financial security as well as financial independence, but also to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for themselves, their offspring, and their parents.

Download the report here

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