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Friday, June 29, 2012

Making More of Women’s Strengths, 40 Years After Title IX

By Jane Miller, Chief Operating Officer

Gallup and the National Women’s Hall of Fame Tuesday hosted a celebration of what women and society have achieved since Title IX became law 40 years ago. As a gender, we have made significant strides in the last 40 years due to Title IX’s purpose to end discrimination on the basis of sex in hiring and employment by ending gender discrimination in education programs and activities. Although the law dramatically increased the opportunities for women to participate in sports, we have a long way to go to continue to help millions more reach their potential in the U.S. and the world.

At Gallup, we are fortunate to have a workforce that is made up of 55% women and management ranks that mirror our associate ranks. We have always valued diversity in the workplace because of the quantifiable difference it makes to engagement and the overall financial health of an organization.

However, statistic after statistic shows women still aren’t making enough gains at the highest levels of the C-suite or boardrooms. There was a great series of articles last year in The Wall Street Journal exploring why women aren’t advancing at the same speed that men do. From a female neuroscientist who talked about the differences in our brains as to why we choose different directions in our work and lives, to a woman well-known on Wall Street who talked about being an executive as an “extreme sport,” there are many theories as to why women are not as likely as men to make it to the executive level.

Here is one more theory: In Gallup’s database of more than 7 million people who have taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder, we have found that men and women have four of the same top five strengths: Learner, Responsibility, Achiever, and Relator. The two we don’t have in common as an aggregate population are Strategic for men and Empathy for women. In addition, women tend to lead with Responsibility, while men lead with Achiever. Many women feel a strong sense of responsibility to their work and coworkers and to their home and family. Often, women feel that no one could take their place at home and they feel a “responsibility” for that job first and foremost.

And there of course are the many organizations that don’t do enough to understand each person’s strengths and what they could gain by bringing more of their best women into the highest levels of leadership.

Workplaces can definitely help women go even further by valuing their innate, unique strengths and by helping both women and men arrange their schedules. When great workplaces value women and make accommodations for all parents to have real flexibility -- ranging from time to pick kids up after school to “valuing” time with family as a reason to leave work early and work from home at night -- more and more women can hold the responsibility for both jobs.

Many organizations still don’t get the idea that great associates are working after the kids go to sleep or making up for it on the weekends or early mornings. They don’t get that what matters most is performance and outcomes. Companies should look for individuals, regardless of gender, with not only the strengths to lead, but also the strengths to integrate work and life.

And now just think about the future -- just imagine what it holds with statistics like these:

  • Women are entering college at increasing rates in comparison to men
  • Fifty-eight percent of college graduates are now women, and women now make up the majority of those attending professional graduate schools
  • Seventy percent of high school valedictorians are women in 2012
If more organizations start valuing women’s strengths and making these accommodations for all employees, women will have a better chance to compete in the “extreme sport” of leadership.

Visit to read a special series of articles featuring new data on gender inequality worldwide beginning Thursday, July 5.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gallup Releases New Findings on Women’s Rights After the Arab Uprisings

By Jay Loschky, Gallup Consulting Specialist
The news that the Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate Mohamed Morsi won the Egyptian presidential election continues a trend wherein Islamist parties seem to be rising into the political space created by last year’s Arab uprisings. This development likely has caused concern not only among western observers and the secular-minded, but also among women’s rights activists.
Dalia Mogahed, a subject-matter expert at Gallup focused on Muslim and Arab societies, discussed views on religion in the region and the implications that the free election of Islamist parties has for the future of gender equality in the region at the event releasing Gallup’s latest report, “After the Arab Uprisings: Women on Rights, Religion, and Rebuilding.”
“There is simply no relationship between support for religious law and support for women’s rights,” said Mogahed. Gallup data show that among supporters of Egypt’s leading liberal and Islamist parties, views on women’s rights are almost identical, with 83% of supporters of the liberal Free Egyptians Party and 82% of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party agreeing that women should have the same rights as men. Instead, what appears to be a much stronger driver of supporting equal rights for women is education among men. “The higher the level of men’s education, the higher their support for women’s rights,” remarked Mogahed.
Mogahed pointed out that while Gallup data show men and women in Arab uprising countries are equally supportive of sharia law, significant gender gaps still remain. Women in Arab uprising countries are significantly more supportive of women’s right to initiate divorce and hold any job outside of the home than are men. She said allowing women to play an integral role in interpreting religious principles would likely moderate the role of religious law in Arab uprising countries and better ensure gender equality.
Countering perceptions that an Islamist victory is evidence of a wide mandate to push a religious agenda, both Egyptian men and women report the top concerns facing their families in the same order: 1) inflation, 2) unemployment, 3) lack of affordable food, and 4) security. “What there is broad consensus on among both men and women is that economic issues are now the highest priority,” said Mogahed. This suggests that Islamist parties will likely be judged more for their ability to solve practical economic problems than to implement sharia law.
Based on these findings, Mogahed recommends that policymakers allow women in Arab uprising countries to determine their own priorities, rather than push aggressively for social change. The findings suggest encouraging overall human development and education is more likely to improve the situation of women than focusing on the role of sharia law.
To get the latest Muslim Studies news and findings, sign up for Gallup News alerts.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Colleges Should Measure What They Value

By Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education

There is great unrest about higher education in America today. For the first time, many are seriously questioning the value of a college degree. With soaring tuition costs, rising student debt, and questionable outcomes in the job market, such unrest is understandable.

But there's something more fundamental to what's bothering us. To examine the value of a college degree, we must also examine how we measure educational outcomes. The key performance indicators we use as national measures of outcomes in higher education are woefully inadequate: GPA, degree attainment (or some derivative such as retention rates), and gainful employment are about the extent of the list. And we are struggling mightily to improve these measures.

But here's the real problem: even if we did improve these traditional measures dramatically, it wouldn't matter much because they are the wrong targets. We should be aiming much higher.

"We value what we measure rather than measuring what we value" is an expression commonly heard in education circles these days. It couldn't be more true. The things we truly hope to gain as a result of higher education aren't being measured. Some colleges and universities have started measuring constructs such as student engagement and critical thinking skills -- outcomes that many argue are closer to what we value. But they're still a long way from what really matters in terms of ultimate outcomes.

Here's a simple exercise that will help us appreciate how much we are missing the target right now. Think about how to answer the following questions. Which is the more important outcome?

1. A.) Acquiring knowledge or
    B.) Improving critical thinking

2. A.) Getting a job or
    B.) Getting a job you love

3) A) A graduate who gets a job or
    B.) A graduate who creates jobs for others

4. A.) A good job or
    B.) A good life

5. A.) A good life or
    B.) A good society

The vast majority of us would answer B's across the board. Critical thinking is considered more important than simply mastering a subject, because it enables you to apply that knowledge to solve issues, pioneer new knowledge, or produce something tangible. Getting a job is certainly important, but what matters in the long term is whether it's a job you love -- where there's a match between what you do best and what you do daily in that job. A graduate who gets a job is certainly a productive member of society and a wage earner for his or her family, but a graduate who is an entrepreneur who builds a company and creates dozens, hundreds, or thousands of jobs makes an immense contribution to our economy. Getting a good job is linked to having a good life, but a good life is one of the ultimate goals of a human being. And you can take that one step further and say that a good society, which certainly has to consist of individuals who have good lives, is the ultimate ideal outcome for humankind.

Aside from a hint of measurement of critical thinking, we are not currently measuring any of the most valued outcomes of an education. We're not measuring how many graduates get a job they love. We're not measuring the economic energy and entrepreneurship of our students and graduates. We're not measuring whether they have good lives or whether they are making contributions to better society. These outcomes are certainly being accomplished, but by how many and to what degree? We just don't have a clue. But we'd better get one fast.

The answer won't be found in running faster and harder toward the targets currently in front of us. And it won't be found in a new government standard or ranking system. We have to aim higher, for a wholly different -- and much more meaningful -- set of outcomes. They may be harder to measure than the ones we have now. But that's no excuse. Colleges and universities everywhere can measure these outcomes now, and if we want to defend the value of higher education, we must measure them.

Originally published on The Huffington Post College blog

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What the Best Organizations Do Differently

By Jeremy Pietrocini, Gallup Director of Client Impact

Gallup hosts a leadership summit twice annually for leaders of world-class organizations to connect, exchange best practices, and explore new ideas Gallup is uncovering through its latest behavioral economic research. Gallup’s Spring Summit and 6th annual Gallup Great Workplace Award (GGWA) celebration took place this May in Omaha, Nebraska, where Gallup was privileged to honor 27 elite organizations representing a variety of industries around the world as GGWA winners. These truly first-class organizations have earned this honor by transforming their corporate cultures into environments where employees thrive, optimizing both individual and organizational performance.

Three of these honored organizations have distinguished themselves by winning the award all six years -- ABC Supply Co, Inc., Hendrick Health System, and Winegardner & Hammons, Inc. These organizations have demonstrated their ability to consistently provide their employees with a great workplace -- one that fosters engagement, which then produces added value for their customers and shareholders.

Here is what these award-winning companies do differently to create great workplaces:
  • They hold managers and individuals accountable for making engagement a part of everyday work, rather than just conducting a survey once a year.
  • Their leaders set a positive example for the rest of the organization by helping their teams thrive.
  • The have unique coaching and training opportunities for both top- and bottom-performing managers. They address the needs of both groups and offer steps to help each group improve.
  • They make their mission and purpose clear throughout the organization to connect the front-line workers with the organization. When employees make this connection, they feel their work is more meaningful than just a 9-to-5 job.
  • They identify key business issues and desired outcomes at the start of every initiative.
 Even in tough economic times, the 2012 GGWA winners have continued to maximize the talents of their people to achieve superior business performance in their industries and position themselves as employers of choice. These leaders understand the mutual benefit of valuing their employees as individual people and how this approach extends far beyond their organizations’ bottom lines to positively impact the families, friends, and communities of their combined 540,000 employees.

At Gallup’s Fall Summit, to be held Sept. 24-26 in Washington, D.C., business leaders will learn how to turn their companies into a “Talent Machine,” and will hear from experts and leaders who have implemented these practices to grow their companies. Contact us to learn more.

For more workplace insights from Gallup, sign up to receive the Gallup Business Journal each week.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

All Boats Must Rise: Female Economic Empowerment in the Middle East

The World Economic Forum published a new essay today, written by the Executive Director for The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Dalia Mogahed. Mogahed explores the factors shaping women’s economic empowerment in the Middle East and recommends that policymakers should increase women's economic contributions by focusing on elevating their country’s human development as a whole, rather than focusing on gender-specific programs or secularization of social norms.

Here are some key findings from the essay:

  • Arab women want religion and equal rights: While religious discourse has long been exploited to deny women’s rights, women seem to reject attempts to pit their faith against their empowerment. The majority of women and men across countries experiencing political upheaval do want some level of religious influence in law, though people’s views of the specific role for Sharia vary widely from one country to another.
  • Women want to be active and empowered: Roughly nine in 10 women in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen agree that women should be able to work in any job for which they are qualified. And it is here where we find the greatest gender gap. Though majorities of men agree women should have the right to work at any job for which they are qualified, their support lags that of women by double digits in many countries.
  • Economic troubles, not religion, may negatively affect women’s rights: Gallup analysts found that across the Arab world, men’s support for women’s equal legal status and right to hold any job they are qualified for was positively linked to their level of life satisfaction, employment, and other measures of economic and social development -- such as education and national score on the Human Development Index, not support for Sharia. This suggests that, in principle, economic trouble is a greater threat to women’s rights than public support for religious legislation.
  • To empower women, focus on human development: Women’s empowerment must be seen as part of a holistic approach that elevates society as a whole, and therefore must also include men. According to Gallup surveys, women’s problems and priorities across the region are not gender specific, but reflect their nation’s challenges:  unemployment, instability, and poor education systems. 
Read the complete essay. The Gallup research she references will appear in the upcoming report “After the Arab Uprisings: Women on Rights, Religion, and Rebuilding,” which will be available June 25, 2012, at

Watch Dalia Mogahed's TED Talk, where she shares surprising data on Egyptian people's attitudes and hopes before the Arab Spring -- with a special focus on the role of women in sparking change.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Gallup World Poll Surveys Its 160th Country

By Jon Clifton, Partner

The Gallup World Poll, now in its eighth year, has achieved an important milestone -- surveying its 160th country -- Swaziland. The Gallup World Poll systematically surveys global attitudes and behaviors, and encompasses multiple years’ worth of data from most of the 160 countries it has surveyed since 2005.

Gallup has been conducting individual country studies around the world since the late 1930s; however, it wasn't until 2005 that Gallup started asking the same questions in countries around the world at least once per year in an initiative known as the Gallup World Poll. The initiative has grown significantly since that time, and Gallup now surveys multiple times a year in many nations. The World Poll has also led to a number of “firsts” for Gallup, including its first surveys in countries like Cuba, Myanmar, Libya, Turkmenistan, Comoros, Syria, and the Somaliland region.

The purpose of the Gallup World Poll is to track the current state of the world on the most important issues facing humanity, such as food security, unemployment, and wellbeing. Gallup's commitment to developing long-term trends in virtually every country in the world provides a unique perspective -- the outlook of the people -- on historic events like the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and the global economic meltdown.

Numerous institutions now use the information that Gallup collects through the World Poll in their own work. Examples include:
Gallup Seniors Scientists and other world-class researchers have analyzed data from the World Poll to produce groundbreaking studies. These experts include academics, economists, and a Nobel prize winner:  Angus Deaton, Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, Alan Krueger, Betsey Stevenson, Justin Wolfers, Lisa BerkmanAllan McCutcheon, Lee Becker, Rafael Di Tella, John Helliwell, Richard Easterlin, Jeff Levin, Leora Klapper, Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Rodney Stark, and Carol Graham, among others.

In 2005, Gallup made a commitment to survey as much of the world as possible for 100 years. This not only means the World Poll will continue to churn out more discoveries about what people everywhere think and feel, but it also will continue to provide world leaders with the will of this planet’s 7 billion citizens.

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