The Advisory Career

A Gender Gap: Women Aren't Buying The Selling Career

More than 60 percent of women—equivalent to a quarter of the U.S. population— do not consider sales as a career option

NEW YORK, N.Y., October 14, 2015 —The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers, today announced findings from a new study focused on women and sales careers, and the gender imbalance that remains across industries despite considerable efforts by many companies over the past few decades.

Guardian’s Closing the Gender Gap in Sales study reveals that personal, cultural and industry barriers still exist for many women considering a career in sales today.

Sixty percent have not even considered a job in sales, and only 22 percent of women surveyed were even somewhat open to a career in sales.

A collision of expectations

Guardian’s study identifies five personal barriers that stifle women’s interest in sales careers, showing how social norms and women’s career expectations often collide:

  • Women choose humility over hubris
    Ultimately, women fear they don’t have the ego-driven personality they need to succeed in sales—77 percent say they’re not pushy enough for the job.
  • Women stifle their inner swagger
    Seventy-two percent say they can lead their team to success at work, however women rank being a leader 11th among their top traits.
  • Inertia feels safer than risk
    One in two women is most comfortable sticking to her routine. Women play it safe, which influences why they think sales isn’t for them and 57 percent don’t know what it would take to be successful in sales.
  • Women are navigating the workforce without a career map
    One in three women says she doesn’t have a leader to guide her along the way. Having a mentor or a roadmap to help navigate what to expect during a career change would provide many with a guide toward success.
  • Perfection equals pressure
    Eighty percent set the bar very high for themselves professionally. Seventy percent of respondents indicate that they’d always be stressed and under pressure in a sales job.
A lack of outreach and open dialogue about the way sales careers can look means women are unlikely to seek them out, regardless of industry

“Across industries, we need to help women overcome the cultural, personal and industry barriers in order to understand that, based on what they want in their careers—and in life—sales can be a great fit,” said Emily Viner, vice president of agency growth and development at Guardian.

“A lack of outreach and open dialogue about the way sales careers can look means women are unlikely to seek them out, regardless of industry. Many women are unaware that their functional and emotional needs can be met by what a sales career can offer.”

“At Guardian, we are committed to making a change, helping women connect the dots between the type of life they want and what a career in sales can offer,” said Viner. For women who have considered a sales position in the past, three-quarters of them would consider it in the future; suggesting women who have explored a sales opportunity saw it as a potentially rewarding, meaningful career.




About the Survey
Committed to recruiting, retaining and helping women succeed, Guardian commissioned Insight Strategy Group and embarked on a study in 2015 to learn why more women—especially Gen X and Millennial women—are not attracted to a financial advisor career. The goal was to better understand what this group of women was searching for in their careers at different life stages, how this may change over time, and how a career in sales may resonate with them. This research included one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and a quantitative survey that involved speaking with more than 2,000 individuals. The findings indicate a much bigger conversation that transcends industries and highlights how women are not sold on sales careers.
About Guardian
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) is one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers, with $6.8 billion in capital and $1.3 billion in operating income (before taxes and dividends to policyholders) in 2014. Founded in 1860, the company has paid dividends to policyholders every year since 1868. Its offerings range from life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, and investments for individuals to workplace benefits, such as dental, vision, and 401(k) plans for businesses. The company has approximately 6,000 employees and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 70 agencies nationwide. For more information about Guardian, please visit