NEW YORK (November 18, 2010) – With a reported gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of approximately 7 percent and a projected talent gap of more than 5 million by 2012, India’s near-term economic health depends on the immediate utilization of all of its talent. Yet very few women in India, who are poised to fill this talent gap, have successfully scaled the corporate ladder, according to Leadership Gender Gap in India Inc.: Myths and Reality, a groundbreaking new Catalyst study released today.

“Recognizing that women are essential to business can only benefit corporate India,” said Ilene H. Lang, President & Chief Executive Officer, Catalyst. “India Inc. has a unique opportunity to take advantage of a rich female talent pool.”

Women’s workforce participation has increased substantially and has even outpaced men’s in recent years, but women are still far from achieving parity in the corporations of India. Although women in India outpace men in obtaining advanced degrees, research shows they often remain stuck at their companies’ junior- to middle-management levels.

Catalyst research reveals that, contrary to popular but mistaken beliefs about women employees’ level of ambition and commitment to their careers, women’s leadership aspirations are similar to those of their male colleagues in that both want to advance to higher-level positions. Women in India are far more likely to prioritize work over family compared with their female counterparts in Europe and the United States. Despite their ambition, drive, and priorities, women in India face barriers that men do not. According to Catalyst research, among other obstacles, female leaders in India are more likely to wait for an opportunity to present itself than they are to seek one out, whereas their male counterparts are more proactive. This tendency is often mistaken for a lack of ambition on the part of women employees.

“Educated, talented, ambitious women can fill the leadership gap created by the rapid growth of the Indian economy. Companies in India can capitalize on this potential by attracting and advancing talented women,” said Ms. Lang.

This is the first report in Catalyst’s Advancing Women in India series, which focuses on building awareness and offering action steps for developing and advancing women in corporate India.

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award. is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.