Although there may be many social injustices and discriminations that keep women from moving up in the workplace, a recent study conducted by a team of female researchers from Harvard University suggests that part of the reason we don’t see as many female CEOs is because women aren’t all that interested in taking on high-power work roles.

Women comprise nearly half of the workforce, according to a 2014 survey, only 14.3 percent hold top executive office positions at Fortune 500 Companies, and only 20 percent are in senior management roles. Recently, a team of researchers investigated the origins of this stark gender gap. For the study, which is now published in the online journal PNAS, the team conducted a series of studies which involved the input of over 4,000 participants in order to better determine exactly how men and women viewed the idea of moving up higher in their career. The results revealed a clear difference in how the sexes perceived the repercussions of having a powerful position.

The study showed that although both men and women viewed similar positive outcomes of getting a promotion, such as making more money, women were more like to also associate these promotions with negative outcomes, such as higher incidences of workplace conflict. Participants were also asked to list their core life goals and although women listed more life goals than men, a much smaller proportion of their goals were related to achieving power at work. The studies also revealed that although most women view high-level positions as “equally attainable,” they are more likely than men to view these positions as less desirable.

"[C]ompared to men, women have more life goals that make achieving high-power positions at work seem less desirable (but equally attainable). Therefore, women may not assume high-level positions in organizations — at least in part — because they desire other things as well," the authors wrote.

The results are interesting, but should not overshadow the fact that women do often face discrimination in the workplace. In her book Why so Slow? The Advancement of Women, Virginia Valian points out how society often perceives women as incompetent until proven otherwise and how cultural biases constantly underrate women, Forbes reported. Even Charles Darwin, the forefather of evolution, once deemed women to be both physically and intellectually inferior to men. Still, even in Scandinavia, renowned for its gender equality — it boasts the highest proportion of females in legislation in the world — the number of females in top positions are nearly non-existent.

“Even with a 50/50 division of male and female employees, all my managers are male,” a Swedish banker told Time.

This study is not the first to suggest that part of the reason women aren’t rising higher up the corporate ladder is because they don’t want to. A 2012 study on women in the workplace revealed that one of the most prevalent reasons why women are taking up more powerful work positions is because they don’t find senior leadership roles as appealing. Although the study does not present a clear solution for helping to encourage more women to pursue high-power jobs and thus close the work gender gap, the findings do help us better understand some of the underlying factors behind gender science and our decision-making process.

Source: Gino F, Wilmuth CA, Brooks AW. Compared to men, women view professional advancement as equally attainable, but less desirable. PNAS 2015.