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Women Managers: Enormous Deficit in Large Companies and Employer's Associations

DIW Weekly Report 4 / 2005, S. 57-67

Elke Holst

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Across Europe, there are much fewer women than men employed in executive positions. On European average, only 10% of the members of the highest decision-making bodies in the top 50 publicly quoted companies are women. However, the situation varies substantially from country to country. The European countries with the highest shares of women managers are Slovenia and Latvia, at 22% each, while the country with the worst record is Italy, at 2%. Germany, with a 10% share of women managers, is in the middle of the ranking order. However, the picture in Germany becomes less favourable when the figures for enterprises and associations are examined separately. For example, women occupy only 1% of the seats on the boards of management and 8% of the seats on the supervisory boards of Germany's 87 largest 'old economy' joint-stock companies. The situation is more favourable in the workers' representative bodies and the professional associations, where women account for between one fifth and one quarter of the executives - a figure that is still far removed from parity, however. Even under the broader definition of specialist and managerial staff in all areas of white-collar and public-service employment, the share of women is still less than one third, although women account for 45% of total employment in these areas. The German business sector's agreement of 2001 with the German government to commit itself to voluntarily promoting equal opportunity for women and men in the private sector has had very little impact to date at managerial level. Substantial effort is still required if this situation is to improve.

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