11/19/2012 10:31 am ET

Why Executives Don't Always Give Women Employees Important Feedback

Women occupy a ridiculously — and oft-bemoaned — tiny number of high-powered executive jobs. A new study suggests this is partly because they're not getting enough feedback about their performance.

Researchers at the Center For Talent Innovation interviewed over 4,000 executives at large corporations about "executive presence" — the tough-to-pinpoint characteristics and behaviors that make people likely to end up in a corner office. They found that a number of factors, like how you dress, how well you relate to others, and how much you look people in the eye, to be important. Some of them are innate personality traits that born-to-be-CEO types just have, but a lot of them — like wearing more professional outfits or getting better at making eye contact — are things that can be improved. But often, no one in the office makes employees, women especially, aware of their shortcomings.

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