Women are underrepresented - in the Swedish guard as well as in German management. What can science do about it?

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Women under management

When it comes to climbing the career ladder, women still have many obstacles to overcome. Implicit leadership theories offer an explanation. With many People is are “woman” and “Guide”Apparently have a worse cognitive association than“ man ”and“ leadership ”. We examined that more closely.

Above all in German top management positions women are still rather rare. According to the Federal Statistical Office, today only 30% of women's senior positions are held.

Only 26% female managers

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Manager databases show a similar picture: in Germany, only 26% of staff in middle management as well as 11% in top management as well as in supervisory bodies.

Scientific studies show that this picture is partly due to systematic discrimination against women Workplace is owed. For example, women need to do better on job reviews to earn promotions, which usually lead to positions for which they are paid about a third less than their male counterparts, or they are often only promoted when there is a high likelihood of failure at the higher position, the so-called glass-cliff phenomenon.

Entrepreneurial short-sighted, ethically questionable

While such a practice is still short-sighted, it is above all ethically questionable.

In Germany, therefore, since 2006, the General Equal Treatment Act has been designed to prevent or eliminate unjustified disadvantages on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, belief, disability, age, sexual identity or gender.

Where is the quota already?

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For this purpose, corporate as well as national committees rely on so-called quota regulations. A current example of this can be found at Deutsche Telekom, which prescribed a women's quota in leadership positions from 30% to the year 2015.

Even more concrete, it can be found in Norway. Here, 2006 has already been set by law to have an 40% women's share of the supervisory board. Company, which do not meet this quota, threatens the dissolution after a grace period of two years.

Positive as well as negative reactions

From a psychological point of view, such quota regulations are useful, to the number female Executives to increase and thus to be able to break down prejudices in the long term, but quota regulations are also provocative in many cases negative reactions in both sexes.

Men feel are often treated unfairly by quotas, since they are disadvantaged if they have the same qualifications. Women, on the other hand, fear that quota regulations will create another form of stigma that will make them face even more prejudice. Quota regulations therefore often appear to be rather counterproductive, at least in the short term act.

Prototype conceptions: Managers are male!

Research shows that prototypical ideas about leadership are still heavily interwoven with male attributes and roles, thus providing an implicit source of unequal treatment.

In our study, we wanted to find out whether dealing with images of female managers can shift the classic image of male managers in favor of women, i.e. whether the implicit cognitive Pattern can change.

Our results

We want to show how gender equality efforts can be supported without causing further stigmatization.

Incidentally, we have published the entire study with all footnotes in the Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie A and O (Volume 54, Number 3 / 2010).

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