Who are the real guardians of the glass ceiling?
Article in images

The study and its conclusions


© Jupiter
© Jupiter
The most common reasons male managers give as to why women can't make it to the top, can essentially be divided into three groups:

1. "Women don't fit into the top management environment": Conservative managers, who see women as obstacles in well-established networks and groups on principle.

2. "You need to be hard in management echelons, which is just not feminine": Something that is normal for a man in a high managerial position is regarded as not fitting for a woman – "not feminine", or "unnaturally manly." For that reason she would not be a positive representative of the company, and might even damage the image or the brand.

3. "There are not enough qualified women": While a woman’s gender does not play a role in principle, some men think that too many women choose to prioritize family over career; these men do often see motherhood as a reason for the exclusion of women.

500 managers surveyed
For the study, the team spoke to some 500 male and female executives from private companies based in Germany.

Forty male managers were then questioned in a longer interview, using the "narrative technique." This involves a trigger at the beginning, which is meant to get the respondent to talk, while the scientist merely listens and asks questions for clarification every now and again. In this case the trigger was: "We would like to talk to you about women in leadership positions.”

They determined that: everybody is highly aware of the problem. Neither men nor women are at all optimistic that the situation for women will improve by itself; only 26 percent of the women believe it will and only 29 percent of the men.

Their conclusion? The guardian of the "glass ceiling" is probably not the individual manager, for most individual managers actually seem to be open and supportive of women in the workplace. Instead, it is the preconceived "patterns in the heads and hearts" of men that are standing in the way. Only if these can be overcome will things truly change.


Women in Focus Editor
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