Elizabeth S. Allison, associate professor of Economics, said at the Cambridge Forum last night that qualified women may refuse opportunities to become top executives.
Speaking at the First Parish Church on Church St., Allison said, "Whether or not we stay in the market depends on what we want, how much we want, and if we want it enough to prepare for it and work for it."
She said that women held high-paying traditionally male-occupied positions during the 1920s and World War II, but left them.
Fear of Success
College-educated women rarely prepare themselves for top executive positions, Allison said. While men who become presidents of companies study engineering English, education, or nursing while in college.
In addition, she said, executives generally have uninterrupted careers, while women often take time out to have children.
"If you take five or six years out, you can't compete with those who have uninterrupted work histories," she said.
"I find it difficult to believe that women will choose to stay in the labor force and go the no children route," she said. "There's no precedent for it."