Women strive to be top of their workplace ‘game’ before they turn 40

Almost half (48 per cent) of women want to have reached career success before the age of 40, with one in three hoping to earn their ideal salary by 35 years old, research has revealed.

This is compared to just 39 per cent of men, as the majority of males were happy to hold out for success until after their 40th birthday.

Men and women’s salary expectations also differ, with females believing career success comes with an annual wage of £54,000 compared to £58,000 for men.

According to a survey of 2,000 workers across the UK, conducted by recruitment firm Reed, achieving career success is equally important to both men and women (51 per cent), but what they perceive as indicators of success are very different depending on their gender.

While women are more ambitious at a younger age, men are more likely to strive for independence and responsibility – and the resulting exposure to risk – of leadership positions.

The ability to work flexibly was a more important indicator for women (41 per cent) than to men (31 per cent), while men associated being their own boss as more important than women (4 percentage points higher); being on the board of their company (+4 percentage points) and owning their own company (+2 percentage points).

Tom Lovell, managing director at Reed, said: “With addressing the gender pay gap and the glass ceiling high on the political agenda, it’s particularly interesting that women want to hit key milestones earlier on in their career.”

According to research, pay is no longer the sole indicator of success and motivator of good performance.

This correlates to the Reed findings, which suggests while the “old-fashioned” markers of success such as golf days and business lunches are firmly out of favour, a desire for good work-life balance was favoured by 75 per cent of all workers.

Both men and women agree that 35 days of paid holiday would be a good definition of career success, while getting your own office is still on the list for almost half (49 per cent) of UK workers, despite the rise in open-plan offices and hot-desking.

Technology is playing an ever-growing role as a mark of success, Lovell said with 45 per cent of workers expecting to receive a laptop, and 32 per cent expecting a company iPhone by the age of 34 if they are going to make it to the top.

Lovell said the results indicated that many of the UK workers hadn’t yet received these items, with three quarters of people (76 per cent) stating that they hadn’t yet achieved career success.

“Interestingly the average worker says career success is eight years away,” he added. “And more than half (54 per cent) believe they are not yet on the right path to achieve success.”

Lovell said businesses had to look more closely at their approach to benefits, to tailor packages to individual needs and wants.