1. Introduction “The day will come when men will recognize women as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race. ” (http://www. leadershipforwomen. com. au/quotes. htm, 12. 11. 2007) This quote by Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), a pioneer of the American women’s movement, clarifies the situation of women, not only in leading positions.
Even by this day men tend to outweigh women in most leading positions in science, politics and the corporate world. Obviously there is a significant problem for women to climb the professional ladder. But what are the reasons for this and are there any chances to counteract this development? To minimize the complexity I am going to exemplify this problem along managers, university professors and politicians in Germany. First, I am going to illustrate the status quo and clarify this status on the basis of wages. Afterwards I will give some explanations for this problem.
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I am fully aware of the existence of several more possible explanations, but because of the results of various studies and surveys I will concentrate on some social and structural explanations. At the end I will suggest some methods of resolution. Before writing this essay I examined the situation by conducting a web-based survey, in which I interviewed 32 women and 31 men between the ages of 19 and 27 who are currently studying or doing an apprenticeship. In this survey one of my questions was whether they thought plans to start a family or stereotypes of society could have an influence on their career.
Furthermore if they thought women were less capable of assuming position of leadership than men are due to a lack of typical manager-characteristics like authority/assertiveness, toughness and remoteness. Surprisingly 75% of women and 84% of men claim not to be influenced by society’s stereotypical thinking. In contrast to that 88% of the female and 74% of the male interviewees think plans to start a family definitely has a significant influence on their career. When it came to the question of whether women are less competent in positions of leadership all the interviewees responded in complete agreement that this is not the case.
Only one women and one man were of the opinion, that men are better leaders than women. The Accenture-Study produced the opposite results: As I will explain later on, Accenture arrives at the conclusion that society, or rather its stereotypical thinking, is the strongest hindrance to women pursuing successful careers. (compare 3. 1. 3) I will explain this contrast at the end of my essay. On the contrary there is an obvious trend towards a higher percentage of women in leading positions in all sectors. The following paper exemplifies the reasons for this development. 2. Status Quo 2. 1.
In the Corporate World The underrepresentation of women in leading positions was confirmed by a study conducted by the Department of Occupational Research of the Federal Employment Office (Institut fur Arbeits- und Berufsforschung der Bundesagentur fur Arbeit) in 2004. This paragraph uses this study as a reference point. The study differentiates between the private and the public sectors, in part between East- and Westgermany and occupational branches. About 45 % of all employees in the private sector are women, but only 25% of women of top management positions are occupied by women.
This problem is less significant in the public sector, presumably due to the different methods of promotion in the two sectors. Of a total of 66% of female employees and 41% of women in leading positions nearly half of the top-management positions are fulfilled by women. It is worth noting that with an increase in the company’s size and hierarchy both in the private and public sectors, the percentage of women in leading positions decreases from 26 % in small to just 4% in big companies with five hundred or more employees.
As a result of the comparison of the new and the old German Laender, you find that the total percentage of female leaders is with 30 % much higher in the east as it is in the west with a total percentage of 23 %. This could be explained by the existence of smaller companies in the east. It is also remarkable that women are predominantly represented in health care and welfare and also in commercial service. (http://doku. iab. de/kurzber/2006/kb0206. pdf, 16. 11. 07) 2. 2. In Politics For a long time women’s participation in politics stagnated at 10%. As a precursor the Green Party established the “women’s quota” in 1986.
Consequently, ever since then the Green Party has been required to allocate 50 % of all party list positions to women. Gradually other parties followed suite and joined in the idea of establishing a women’s quota, for example the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1988 had a quota of 40% women in office. In 1996 even the CDU joined in with a quota of one third. Consequently the participation of women differs depending on the party. With the election of the 16th Bundestag Angela Merkel became the first female head of government, (but there still has never been a woman in the position of head of state. (http://www. sueddeutsche. de/kultur/artikel/835/46789/, 22. 11. 2007). Nevertheless, women are still underrepresented in the 16th Bundestag. Out of a total of 614 elected members of the Bundestag merely 193 (31,2%) are female. This represents a slight decrease of women in parliament compared to the year 2002 which had 32,2%. (http://www. statistik. baden-wuerttemberg. de/Veroeffentl/Monatshefte/PDF/ Beitrag05_12_11. pdf, 22. 11. 2007) Rita Sussmuth, former Bundesminister fur Women, Family and Health after a long struggle for equality said: “Frauen kommen in den Vorhof, jedoch nicht in das Zentrum der Macht”. http://www. sueddeutsche. de/kultur/artikel/835/46789/, 16. 11. 2007) After Merkels candidacy for the Bundeskanzleramt she modified the quote: „Mit dieser Kanzlerkandidatur ist wirklich der Vorsto? vom Vorhof zum Zentrum der Macht gelungen. ” (http://www. spiegel. de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,359287,00. html, 12. 11. 2007). However, at 31% politics is the sector representing the highest percentage of women, compared to all other sectors (http://www. sueddeutsche. de/kultur/artikel/835/46789/, 16. 11. 2007). 2. 3. In Science
In 2004 only 13,6 % of all university professors and 9,2% of C4–professorships were awarded to women. The percentage of women varies depending on the faculty. In philology and cultural studies as well as veterinary medicine one in every two students is female, whereas in fields such as engineering, technology and natural sciences women are represented by less than 20%. Even in science there is a trend towards increasing participation by women. The amount of postdoctoral lecture qualifications rose from 4,5 % in the eighties to 22,7% in 2004, again this portrays the same tendency corresponding to the faculties.
However there is still one problem to be considered: In contrast to the percentage of postdoctoral lecture qualifications the percentage of women appointed to the faculty staff increases disproportionally. Consequently there is a gap between those who qualify and the number of female appointees. In 2003 22 % of women completed their postdoctoral lecture qualification, while just 17,2 % were appointed to a position at a university. (http://www. bosch-stiftung. de/content/language1/downloads/Kurzexpertise. pdf, 17. 10. 7) Another problem is that many of the potential female professors drop out during the transition to their doctoral candidacy and again more there is further attrition during the transition to State doctorate. The graph (graph 1 in attachment I) depicts the percentages for men and women in different stages of their academic careers for the year 2005. 2. 4. Clarification Based on Wages: Women in the same positions, with the same qualifications, duties, responsibilities and age earn an average of 20 to 30% lower wages than their male counterparts. (see graph II in attachment I) . Interpretations and Indicators for this Problem 3. 1. Accenture Study: The Anatomy of the „Glass Ceiling” 3. 1. 1. Accenture Accenture ascertained, that even in modern states women still are not treated equally. “The Accenture study ‘The Anatomy of the Glass Ceiling’ examines the worldwide perception of the unofficial barrier to upper management that certain groups, particularly women, may find difficult to break through” (http://www. accenture. com/NR/rdonlyres/9A504280-5296-43E5-B197-AE1FC48866F3/0/glass_ceiling. pdf, 18. 10. 07) 3. 1. 2. Methodology
Accenture implemented a web-based survey of 600 successful business executives in six countries in Europe and Asia Pacific. Approximately 50 % of all interviewees were female. To evaluate the results of the survey and to measure the “thickness” of the Glass Ceiling, Accenture developed the “Accenture Global Glass Ceiling Index” by taking into account three dimensions: The individual dimension ( individual career-planning, competence, ambition, etc. ), the surrounding society (equal rights, promotion programs, etc. ) and the company (supportive supervisors, mentoring programs, etc. ).
The interviewees were asked to rank different questions for each of the three categories. The difference between female and male scores in each sector and the combination of the results of each dimension were used to calculate the thickness of the “Glass Ceiling”. It was measured on a scale from 0-6 with 6 being the highest perceived barriers to women’s professional advancement, the maximal thickness of the Glass Ceiling. 3. 1. 3 Results in Germany In Germany the Glass Ceiling Dimension in the individual sector was 3,4, in the company it was 3, 4 as well and in society was is rated at 4, 8.
Accenture found out that female executives judge/rate their personal abilities and ambition much more highly than men do, but at the same time women are less confident about their career development. To women, the method of promotion within their company seems less transparent than it does to men. In contrast to women from other countries, German women rate international networks to be more important, at the same time they find the relevance of education as a foundation for success to be less crucial. This is illustrated by the debates in Germany about women studying the “wrong” field to pursue a career.
Fields like literature or educational studies, which are traditionally not – or at least infrequently – the key for success, happen to be the most popular subjects for women to study. In other fields that would provide better job opportunities such as business, science or technology, women are still underrepresented. But surprisingly, the most significant barrier to women’s advancement is German society. Regardless of the support or methods their company provides to treat men and women equally, female German executives still feel that they are much better accepted in the corporate world than they are in German society. Almost 70% f all men said, that decision-making is still male dominated and 55% think that the promotion of women should still be increased. Marked differences in family status are less significant than frequently portrayed in the public debate. Just slightly fewer women are married or in a stable relationship, whereas the number of female and male executives with children is nearly the same. In summary, Germany needs to focus on changing societies’ perception of women in leadership positions to minimize the thickness and the effects of the “Glass Ceiling”. (http://www. accenture. com/NR/rdonlyres/9A504280-5296-43E5-B197-AE1FC48866F3/0/glass_ceiling. df, 18. 10. 07) 3. 2. The Statistical Discrimination by Margit Osterloh and Sabine Littmann-Wernli Statistical discrimination is defined as “the discrimination of a single person within a group of employees on the basis of average expectations concerning the behavior of the whole group”. (Own translation of http://www. iou. unizh. ch/orga/downloads/publikationen/C79glaesernedecke. pdf, page 2; 06. 11. 07) As employers cannot be informed sufficiently about every single person, they have to rely on experiences or on predicted average efficiencies of single groups when it comes to employment or promotions.
Consequently, some applicants are discriminated as they are “thrown into the same pot” although they may possess a higher qualification or motivation. Especially women are exposed to this dilemma since they are more likely to take time out from their job. They also have to carry the double burden of waged work and the bulk of household responsibilities, yet they are said to have a lower average efficiency. As a result women are often assigned to less attractive tasks or jobs. The employer’s behavior perpetuates a “vicious circle of statistical discrimination”.
As I mentioned above, women are assigned to less attractive, low-paid jobs with worse career opportunities. Consequently women are becoming less motivated in their profession. They anticipate the mechanism of permanent discrimination, assimilate their profession and their commitment to it and in turn fulfill the low expectations of the employers. An empirical study shows that women accommodate their professional expectations to the opportunities they receive: They set their objectives lower. Nonetheless: Critics argue that a ower average efficiency of women cannot be taken as definite, as it is not truly measureable. Normally efficiency is measured by hourly wages as, when taken at face value, wages should reflect efficiency. But since wages are influenced by gender, it cannot be seen as a dependable reflection. One thing is certain: The average efficiency of a woman is lower than that of a man when you consider the average of ALL women. Women do have a higher fluctuation rate and more often have part-time positions than men. As a consequence, fewer employers invest in professional training and development of women.
This logically results in a lower average efficiency. The vicious circle is thus completed. (http://www. iou. unizh. ch/orga/downloads/publikationen/C79glaesernedecke. pdf, page 2-4; 06. 11. 07) 3. 3. The Stereotypical Way Society Thinks Women are often confronted with stereotypes that indicate that women are less capable of leading than men. (Assig, D. (2001), page 23) Stereotypes can be defined as a fixed imagination or prejudices about certain character and behavior features of other persons or groups. Stereotypes can be neutral, but are mainly demeaning.
Stereotypical conceptions can be conveyed easily to others, especially to persons, who have not yet formed their own opinion about certain topics or people. (http://www. bpb. de/popup_grafstat. html? url_guid=FW8KQA, 06. 11. 07) A focus on role models, relationships and a lack of decisiveness are typical characteristics attributed to women. What is seen as “typically female” originates in the social role or is expected behavior that society allocates to women. Consequently women have to prevail over these stereotypes to get access to leading positions.
As stereotypes are fixed in our society and cannot be changed or disestablished from one day to the next, they can lead to discrimination and overgeneralization. Frequently gender and professional roles are not regarded independently by companies as they should be. Due to this a woman’s professional achievements are often ascribed to attributes such as luck or effort and not to her ability and/or competence. Stereotypes are very rigid as humans aspire to avoid “cognitive dissonances”. They strive for agreement of cognitive perception and the observation of reality.
Consequently humans tend to interpret reality the way, it matches their prejudices. As humans do not always search for a “new reality” they won’t change their attitude although it has been empirically proven wrong. Especially negative stereotypes against certain groups that one is not associated with are deeply ingrained. The reason for this is that humans have the need to position themselves above others. Stereotypes can also be interpreted as institutions or “playing rules” to control and coordinate human actions. These institutions can be influenced by religion, culture or history.
Stable stereotypes can influence the assessment and choice of candidates for leading positions. As several studies attest, there is no empirical evidence that women are not capable of leading. Therefore expectations of future management abilities are presumably strongly influenced by stereotypes. (Assig, D. (2001), page 24-28) 3. 4. The Problem of Coordinating Family and Career To many women, the compatibility of family and business represents several conflicts. To combine both they must build “bridges”. Bridges between their private and professional life.
Parental leave can quickly become one of these conflicts and lead to a career breaking point due to the constant change of requirements leaving them out of touch with changes in the work force and also with changes in society as a whole. (http://www. personal-today. de/bewerber/karriere_center/frauen/familie. cfm, 11. 11. 07) Another career obstacle is the insufficient day-care situation for children aged three and younger. In today’s work force employees are expected to be and are more mobile than ever which results in them on being near the supportive infrastructure of close friends and family.
Consequently women need to make use of either public or private day-care facilities. The relation between the number of children and capacity in child care facilities in the year 2002 points out the complexity of problems: For every one-hundred children there are merely eight to nine spaces. Indeed, the “Tagesbetreuungsausbaugesetz” (TAG) of 2004 shows efforts to counteract this problem, yet the amount of spaces is still insufficient. (http://www. bmsfs. de/RedaktionBMFSFJ/Abteilung5/PdfAnlagen/TAG=pdf,bereich =,rwb=true. pdf, 11. 11. 2007) It is notable that women most commonly take on the child raising esponsibilities for their own children and other members of the family as well. The extensive for parents, who cannot adjust to the improvement of operational sequences indicates a further problem. As a consequence parents – mainly mothers – need to modify or even abdicate their work, whereas children enhance the careers of men. This emanates from a statistic of the year 2000: While the employment rate of men and women without children is at 85% or 77% for women, there is a significant difference after the birth of a child: The employment rate of men raises up to 92% while the rate of women decreases significantly down to 55-70%. http://www. bmfsfj. de/bmfsfj/generator/Publikationen/genderreport/01-Redaktion/PDF-Anlagen/kapitel fuenf. property=pdf,bereich=genderreport, sprache=de,rwb=true. pdf, 11. 11. 2007) 4. How to Proceed from the Organizations Perspective 4. 1. The State The state tries to counteract this development by adopting laws and selective advancement programs for females. An example would be the “Gesetz zur Gleichstellung von Frauen und Mannern in der Bundesverwaltung und in den Gerichten des Bundes” of the year 2001 (with an amendment in 2006).
Amongst others issues, it contains extensive rights of the equal opportunity commissioner, the concrete outline of direct and indirect discrimination, guidelines for more efficient programs of equalization and improved policy for a better compatibility of family and business. (http://bundesrecht. juris. de/bgleig/BJNR323410001. html#BJNR323410001BJNG000300000, 11. 11. 07) The allocation of care vacancies for children is another assignment the Bundesregierung committed itself to. (http://www. bmsfs. de/RedaktionBMFSFJ/Abteilung5/Pdf-Anlagen/TAG=pdf,bereich=,rwb=true. df, 11. 11. 2007) Another example is the implementation of the quota in politics, whereby a certain amount of party list positions has to be assigned to women (compare 2. 2) or the implementation of different recognition in compliance with the laws for companies, universities or other institutions which are practicing notable programs for women’s advancement. This recognition can also be used as a marketing tool. An example for this is the ‘Total E-Quality’ recognition supported by the two Bundesministerien. (http://www. otal-e-quality. de/teq, 11. 11. 07) 4. 2. Eva Fischer: Managing Diversity am Beispiel von Gender Politics In her work “Managing Diversity am Beispiel von Gender Politics” Dr. Phil. Eva Fischer describes several approaches that companies could implement to create a pro-women corporate policy. 4. 2. 1. Mentoring „A Mentor is a higher ranking, influential, senior organization member with advanced experience and knowledge who is committed to provide upward mobility and support to a protege’s professional career.
A Mentor can teach you what you won’t learn in college: the ropes” (Fischer, Eva (2007), page: 102-103) Mentoring programs are individual supportive arrangements of human resources development. Oftentimes the company’s intention is to increase the amount of women in leading positions in the long term. (Fischer, Eva (2007), page: 102-103) 4. 2. 2. Arrangements on the Part of the Corporate Management and Human Resources There needs to be a clear declaration within the company, if quotas are aspired or not.
If they decide to do so, the advancement of minorities has to be worded strongly as a business objective and a business agreement needs to be firmly established. Additionally, certain advancement programs are required by law. (Eva Fischer, page 130) These agreements allow for companies to counteract stereotypical behavior of corporate and human resource managers as well as other associates. 4. 2. 3. Work-Life-Balance „Work-life-balance means the equilibrium between the amount of time and effort somebody devotes to work and that given to other aspects of life.
Work-life-balance is the subject of widespread public debate on how to allow employees more control over their working arrangements in order to better accommodate other aspects of their lives, while still benefiting their organizations. ” (Fischer, Eva (2007), page 101) Concrete arrangements would be “Advanced Personal Planning” which means, that personal appointments are respected as business appointments, promotion of flexibility, for instance by supporting moves with moving allowance or offering relocation and ntegration support, more flexible labor times and places of work, as well as part-time opportunities, company kindergartens, support in advance, pre and post maternity leave, so that mothers are always “up-to-date”, etc. (Fischer, Eva (2007), page 131-132) 4. 3. Gender Mainstreaming „Gender Mainstreaming bedeutet, bei allen gesellschaftlichen Vorhaben die unterschiedlichen Lebenssituationen und Interessen von Frauen und Mannern von vornherein und regelma? ig zu berucksichtigen, da es keine geschlechtsneutrale Wirklichkeit gibt. Consequently all leaders of organizations, institutions and associates are asked to take into account all the different circumstances and interests of men and women and to achieve gender equality. (http://www. gender-mainstreaming. net/bmfsfj/generator/gm/definition. html, 14. 11. 07) 5. Conclusion In Germany women are not only strongly underrepresented in the business sector, in politics and the science sector, but also in many other fields. Nonetheless, an increasing tendency of awareness and participation in confronting the problem is observable.
Some companies have recognized the sign of the times: Women aren’t any less suitable for managerial positions than men. As far back as 1961 Konrad Adenauer said: „Ich habe in meiner langen Laufbahn die Erfahrung gemacht, da? im allgemeinen sogar – jetzt werden Sie erstaunt sein – […]die Frauen zuverlassiger sind als die Manner. ” (http://www. mediaculture-online. de/fileadmin/bibliothek/adenauer_frauen/adenauer_frauen. pdf, 16. 11. 07) It is increasingly recognized that women’s abilities are essential to a world in progression.
Even so women in many companies today are kept from breaking through the “Glass Ceiling”. Both the results of the Accenture Study and the results of my own survey seem to be quite surprising. Of course the results can be explained due to the multi-cultural nature of the majority and the larger number of participants, nevertheless I believe that my study describes the subjective perception before entering the real work force. One would assume that only ones achievement really matters and that a person’s gender, or rather society’s