Women in top management
Together with Prof. Dr Karin Kreutzer and Prof. Marjo-Riitta Diehl, Prof. Dr Myriam N. Bechtoldt (Photo) spoke about women’s networks, female elites and the myth of the “glass cliff”.
Are the thought patterns of the last two thousand years, in which the “typically feminine” was more or less defamed, to blame for the gender pay gap and the glass ceiling? That at the end of June 2017 only 47 of the 677 board members of the listed DAX, MDAX, SDAX and TecDAX companies were female? The fact that only a few weeks ago Jennifer Morgan became the first woman to head a DAX company?
Of course, there have been many achievements in the recent past: the man of today is much more involved in everyday family life, helps raise children and takes parental leave. Angela Merkel, a woman, has ruled the Federal Republic of Germany since 2005. But the problem in terms of equal rights in top management and in supervisory boards does not seem to have been solved, as long as they are not subject to a quota. Women today continue to face gender-specific challenges along their career paths.
How women’s and men’s networks differ
EBS professors Karin Kreutzer, Myriam Bechtoldt and Marjo-Riitta Diehl are researching women’s networks, female elites and the myth of the “glass cliff”. They presented their results yesterday as part of the series “Wissenschaft findet Stadt” at Wiesbaden City Hall. “We hope to encourage women to act proactively and with a higher degree of self-confidence - also in exchange with people in higher positions of power,” stated the professors. Research shows that professional networks - that are highly important for career success - are often less efficient and effective for women than for men. There is a structural exclusion of women from networks as a result of the conflict between professional and family life as well as social homophilia. In other words, women still spend much more time on housework and are still confronted with closed male networks (so-called “Old Boys Clubs”).
Women in top management: little is happening
But under what conditions do women’s chances of advancing to top management positions grow? In the early 2000s, British researchers hypothesized that women are more likely to be appointed to the board of a company when that company is struggling with declining profits. They defined the term “glass cliff” for this phenomenon - in contrast to the well-known “glass ceiling”, which describes the fact that invisible barriers prevent women from even reaching top positions. Prominent examples include Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Andrea Nahles, party leader of the Social Democrats in the German Bundestag. “Our research shows that this “glass cliff” in companies is a myth. At the same time, however, the small number of women who are actually promoted to the board of directors of listed companies is striking. The glass ceiling is apparently still intact,” says Prof. Myriam Bechtoldt. In order to be able to break through this glass ceiling, it is important to teach girls at an early age how to exploit their opportunities and talents and pursue their goals. It is also necessary for women in management positions to set an example and help break through this glass ceiling.
Practical tips from our professors:
Do not hesitate to ask the people in your network for a favor or advice.
Have a plan in mind and pursue your goals!
Believe in yourself and your abilities; women still tend to be less confident than men, even if they are just as qualified as their colleagues.