Kay Steiger writes about one somewhat hidden problem facing women looking to get ahead in academia:
Once women earn tenure and arrive at the institution they immediately begin getting pulled into various "service" commitments. This includes heading committees, become program coordinators, or take other leadership roles. While this is good for women that long to go into administration at a university, it often pulls female professors away from research.
I think the urge is to make sure women are represented in leadership roles but when this pulls time away from their principal mission of research, it becomes a bad thing.
Something similar seems to be true in other professions and also for underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities. Because there are relatively few women (or black people or whatever) working for Organization X and there's a desire to make sure that women/minorities are included in this that and the other thing, the smallish number of members of the underrepresented group wind up overburdened with peripheral tasks rather than focusing on their core competencies. It's one of several ways in which the underrepresentation of women in certain fields just makes it per se more difficult for women to get ahead with the whole thing stuck in a bad equilibrium.