In her September 2014 TED Talk (see below), Susan Colantuono starts off by saying that "women represent 50% of middle management positions". Here we have an example of gender equality in the workplace, but only if you're in middle management.
Susan then asks "why are there so many women mired in the middle and what has to happen to take them to the top." We could argue that we don't see women in top management positions due to sexism in the workplace. However, if 50% of all middle management positions are held by women, surely this means that women are not being penalised due to their sex?
According to Susan, there are different elements of leadership, however only certain of these elements are communicated because some of the other elements are "a given" and are assumed to be known. Generally, what is communicated to people rising up the ladder is that they need to be able to successfully engage with people in order to inspire others and themselves to reach the goals set for them by the organisation. It is communicated that good leaders empower others, manage conflict well, are able to negotiate and are good communicators.
For many middle management positions, that is all that is needed. However, to get to the top, there is some extra information that men take for granted and thus this is not communicated to women who are wanting to get to the top. It is taken for granted that the following concepts are already known to people (men and women) wanting to pursue top management positions. To use Susan's own words:
Later on in her talk, Susan mentions a comment by an executive who had mentored both a man and a woman, which sums up the above concepts perfectly. "