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Women in leadership positions: This is why they are still understaffed

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Women in leadership positions: This is why they are still understaffed

Although the proportion of female executives has risen in recent years, women are still understaffed in management positions in this country. The reasons for this are varied and complex. However, one thing is beyond question: women are in no way inferior to their male colleagues in terms of work performance and leadership skills.

But why do the leadership ranks of large companies and important political offices still seem to be the domain of men? And what would have to happen to increase the proportion of female Executives to increase? We would like to take a closer look at this in the following.

Why are there so few women in leadership positions?

As mentioned in the introduction, the reasons for the underrepresentation of Women in management areas are of a multi-layered nature. One key factor is the compatibility of family and career. Although traditional role models are increasingly disappearing and fathers can also take parental leave, it is still mostly women who give up their careers in favor of raising children.

Another cause lies in the corporate culture of many male-dominated companies. A survey by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Women, Senior Citizens and Youth shed light on the mentality pattern of men in management positions. According to this, there are three basic male attitudes, which make it difficult for female potential leaders to advance:

  1. Conservative mindset: women are culturally rejected as leaders because of their gender.
  2. Emancipated basic attitude with limitations: Although women are professionally qualified, they are less able to defend their position of power.
  3. Radical individualism: Gender does not matter, but there is a lack of sufficiently flexible and authentic female leaders.

Fewer startups by women

According to statistics, women are less likely to take the step of Company foundationwhich is another factor for their underrepresentation in the boardroom. The reluctance to start a business is partly due to the good labor market prospects for female professionals, but family planning is also likely to play a role.

Unlike an employee, a female entrepreneur can hardly stay away from her business for a longer period of time. So women have to decide: Do I start a business or a family?

women in leadership positions advantages

Women in leadership positions: What do the statistics say?

Previously, we explained that there are (too) few women in management positions. But what does this mean in concrete terms? For better illustration, we would like to compare the statistics in German-speaking countries with the world statistics compare

Women in management positions in Germany

In Germany, the proportion of women in management positions is 30.8 %. This result puts Germany in 11th place in a Europe-wide comparison and thus below the EU average.

Women in management positions in Austria

In Austria are 30.5 % of managers are female, which puts Austria in 12th place in a Europe-wide comparison and behind Germany.

Women in management positions in Switzerland

According to the latest data collection of Statista from the year 2022, the following figures have emerged for Switzerland with regard to women in management positions:

  • Top management: 17 %
  • Middle management level: 22 %
  • Lower management level: 23 %
  • Lowest management level: 35 %

Women in management positions worldwide

In Europe, the proportion of women in management positions is 32.5 %. Globally, the proportion of women is slightly lower at around 30 %. These results are based on the "Women in Business- Report" from 2021.

Are women more successful in leadership positions?

Of course, for the success In a management position, it is still not gender but professional and personal competence that is decisive. It is therefore not possible to make a general statement that women are generally the better managers.

The fact is, however, that women make up around half of university graduates and that the majority of the next generation of specialists and managers should therefore be at least half female. Unfortunately, this is not the case in practice, although companies would certainly benefit from a higher proportion of women in management positions.

We have summarized below which special skills potentially distinguish female managers:

1. less power struggles

Female managers think less hierarchically. This means that they can often deal with criticism more constructively than their male colleagues and act in a solution-oriented manner.

2. diversity of opinion within the company

Women deal with problems and challenges in a different way than men. The perspective of both genders helps to find successful solution strategies.

3. better employer image

Companies with a high proportion of women - both in management positions and in the workforce as a whole - are perceived as modern employers and are therefore more attractive to skilled workers.

4. better teamwork

Women prove to be more capable of working in a team than men in many situations. They generally find it easy to listen to the concerns of the workforce and cooperate accordingly. A positive working atmosphere in turn increases the company's success.

5. increased recognition among female customers

Studies show that female customers rate a company better when women are present in management positions and HR management is committed to promoting women's careers.

What keeps women from leadership positions?

Although people often claim the opposite, in practice it is clear that the old role models still have a negative impact on women's career opportunities. The image of a typical boss is usually male-dominated. Since most management positions are also held by men, it is up to supervisors to specifically promote female employees.

There may well be a difficulty here: Many a conservative superior prefers a male successor and therefore does not sufficiently promote his female employees. The mentality patterns of men in management positions already explained play a central role here.

Furthermore, there is a lack of flexibility in many companies, which means that women have to choose between family and career. A current example is the developments in the corona pandemic. Often it has been the mothers who have had to face the double burden of work and Homeschooling have been exposed.

Women in leadership: Obstacles and bridges

Despite the aforementioned obstacles, the proportion of women in management positions worldwide is growing slowly but nevertheless steadily. So the question is: What would have to happen for (even) more women to be able to work in management positions? It is doubtful that the share of female executives will continue to grow without appropriate support.

In this context, we come back to the issue of reconciling family and career. Of the few female bosses there are, 72 % are childless, as the 5th Balance of Equal Opportunities of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth shows. The double burden of childcare and work is thus a weighty career obstacle.

To build a bridge would be more flexible working time models a solution. Some companies are already implementing such concepts. Every individual woman can also do something to help with the Career Planning not to be overlooked in the future. The following tips can help you:

  1. Restraint is not a virtue when it comes to your career. Signal your career ambitions and highlight your successes.
  2. Be present in the company. Attend conferences, meetings and events when possible.
  3. Make as many contacts as possible. A stable work network can support you on your career path.
  4. Have confidence in yourself! Many women doubt their own competencies too much.

As the above tips make clear, supposedly polite restraint is also a factor that hinders women's careers. Many girls are still raised to be modest, while boys are allowed to be vocal about their successes. Break away from these old patterns and appear self-confident.

Conclusion: (More) women in management positions can enrich a company

Few topics are discussed as passionately in the business world as the quota for women. Although there are numerous programs for the advancement of women, the low number of female executives speaks a clear language: More needs to change. In some companies, a fundamental change in corporate culture is even necessary.

Several representative studies show that companies benefit from a higher proportion of women in management. Ideally, the skills of female and male executives complement each other. Through satisfied customers and a pleasant working atmosphere, the company's success increases. Companies should therefore make use of the existing Potential Recognize and leverage the potential of female managers.

If you are a woman aspiring to a management position, the first thing to do is not to be discouraged by setbacks. You may have to be more assertive than your male colleagues and perhaps even work a little harder. Commit to your career goals and trust in your strengths.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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