Four trends that could help your career in 2013

With unemployment still high, many Americans are looking to find a job, change careers, or update their skills. Here are four trends for 2013 that can help you make smart career moves.

2. More women at the helm

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    Lori Fouche, president and CEO of Fireman's Fund Insurance (R) speaks on a panel with Patricia Woertz, chairman, president and CEO of Archer Daniels Midland Co. (L), and Ellen Kullman, chair and CEO of DuPont (C), about how sports helped them become leaders during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., in October 2012. A record 21 women now lead Fortune 500 companies.
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The 113th US Congress contains a record number of new and incumbent congresswomen and female senators. Women leaders in the corporate world have reached a new milestone, too: 21 lead Fortune 500 companies – many in fields not traditionally considered female-oriented such as aerospace, defense, and energy. Throughout the workplace, women now hold more than half of all managerial and professional jobs.

Although more progress is needed toward equal pay and representation in certain industries and fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, traditional patterns are eroding. Eighty-nine percent of Americans in a 2007 GfK Roper survey said they feel comfortable with women as leaders. One key might be that in many aspects the corporate world has shifted from a top-down leadership style to a more collaborative, power-sharing model that favors women's relational strengths. In an Apollo Research Institute survey of leadership traits among more than 3,000 male and female managers, women were rated higher than men in demonstrating empathy, ethics, problem solving, and collaboration.

In addition, more women are earning higher degrees. Women in the United States now earn more than half of all bachelor's degrees, and are more likely to attend graduate school than men.

Annual surveys of companies rated as top firms for women have repeatedly shown that those with female-friendly hiring and promotion practices post above-average profits. And reviews of gender and board membership show that companies with women on the board or in senior management outperform those with less equal representation across multiple financial benchmarks.

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