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the future of work

A good work-life balance is increasingly important for Canada’s female professionals.Comstock Images

Professional women in Canada are more upbeat about the way their careers are developing than female workers in most other countries, a new survey has found.

An overwhelming 85 per cent of female professionals said they consider their careers successful, in the What Women Want @ Work study done for networking site LinkedIn. That was one of the highest percentages of career success among 13 countries in the survey, including the United States, Britain and France.

Looking ahead, 81 per cent of Canadian women said they believe they can "have it all" – a fulfilling career, good relationship and a family – if they choose to have children. That's tied with the percentage in the United States and a full 12 percentage points higher than France.

The study found that women have changed their definition of success in recent years. Of the 400 Canadians in the survey, 60 per cent said an essential element in success is having a good balance between their work and personal lives. But just 35 per cent said that work-life balance had been among their top priorities even five years ago.

As personal time has risen in importance, money has become a lower priority for many. While 64 per cent of those surveyed said that a big salary had been key definer of career success for them five years ago, just 50 per cent said it is a make-or-break part of their definition today.

Sixty eight per cent placed more emphasis on "having an interesting job" than on money. However, 42 per cent said inequality in pay for women remains a major challenge in their line of work.

"As women progress in their careers, their definition of success seems to have transformed. Modern working women are not just striving for positions of power or a higher salary – today's professional women are far more likely to define success as having an interesting and fulfilling job and being able to successfully balance their work and home lives," said Danielle Restivo, spokesperson for LinkedIn Canada.

"As women are increasingly finding that their work follows them wherever they are, they'd like more options around where and when they do their work. And it's clear that looking to the future, they see it as the most significant factor for the next generation of women," she said.

A more flexible work environment topped the factors the respondents think will determine the success of the next generation of professional women. It was mentioned by 79 per cent of Canadian women, and 74 per cent said it will also be important for advancement to have a greater representation of women at senior management levels.

The study also probed beliefs about having a family.

Most of the women who don't have children said they would continue on their career path if they did have a family. The study found 66 per cent of Canadian female professionals currently without children believe they will not slow down their careers, while the remaining 34 per cent feel they will.

However, 33 per cent of career women who did have children said that while they love their job, they'd prefer to be able to be a stay-at-home mom.