Why do so few women not get to the board room?

Why do so few women not get to the board room?

The issue of women having the highest management positions is unfavorable – they have less than a third of president’s positions?

If we are aware that women consist of 47% of persons employed, it can be seen that there are disproportionately fewer of them in top management than in the lower ranks. The situation is not conformed to any industry, which happens even in largely feminized industries. For example, in the financial sector, where women account for 60% of the total number of employees, only 13% of them are on boards.

Businesses run by women have it much harder than male counterparts to obtain financing from investors (highly masculine industry). Twice less often than men are involved in startups (38% vs. 62%).

It is difficult to find research that would explain this situation empirically; it depends to a large extent on the mentality of the society. When a man starts a business, he is treated with respect. When a woman does the same, her activities are taken with a grain of salt, and she often does not receive financial and psychological support, hearing that she should take care of the house.

Annual statistics show that women’s earnings evolve consistently  with same resposibiliites as men, women are more or less similar. According to Eurostat 2020, the wage gap, i.e., the difference in earnings between men and women in the same position, is 8.8%. The most significant gender pay gap is seen among women with higher education. This is due to the fact that where wages are the highest, there are relatively few women.

What are the main reasons for these situations taking place?

What women currently have to face in business and what causes a lack of promotions is the classic backlash perpetuating the stereotypical, conservative division of roles by gender.

The most common one says that it is not worth investing in a woman because she will either pass away or subordinate her work to household chores when she gives birth to children. Often women do not want to be promoted themselves, and few employers bother to consider the real reasons for refusal.

The refusal is often caused by a responsible approach to the roles inscribed in social expectations, and the system of supporting expecting mothers is still quite lackluster. The problem is not only the insufficient number of nurseries and kindergardens but also support in their home environment and sharing family responsibilities with their partner.

Another reason for womens weaker positions in business is mainly because of “gender bonding.” A man usually believes that it will be easier for him to get along with another man than with a woman, and therefore, if it is up to him to decide on who to promote, he will choose a man.

Another reason is that women are too shy to compete for the top positions.

When we ask women and men about job satisfaction and being content with themselves, it turns out that men are much more satisfied with their results. Women are not aware of their expertise. For a woman to dare to apply for a higher position or a raise, she must be sure that she meets 100% of the requirements. Meanwhile, a man applies for a promotion with only 60% of the requirements and is paid 30% more than a woman.

As a result of the pandemic, womens confidence in their business skills worsened further. Interestingly enough, the pandemic did not damage men’s self-confidence too much.

Are there any positive trends and a so called light at the end of the tunel?

The positive trend is that women in business are increasingly aware of the power of social capital in their careers and create it consciously. In addition to education, openness to challenges, and readiness to take up emerging opportunities, a decisive role in the business achievements of women, is the network of contacts they managed to form at various stages of development. Thanks to them, they found out about interesting contests, options and vacancies. Then thanks to that, they are breaking the glass ceiling.

Women who became business leaders were usually very active in the early stages of life, since their school years, they undertook social and leadership tasks. When they entered companies, they used that to their advantage.

A businesswoman who had a good female mentor in their environment, from whom they learned leadership, do especially well. Their support gave them confidence, strengthened them, and allowed them not to be afraid of making mistakes.

It is also beneficial for women that the most important features of the new leadership, which higher-level managers now explore during training – empathy, understanding, pro-social view of the organization – are stereotypically attributed mainly to women.

Currently, soft skills, relationship building, and emotional intelligence are extremely important. For many employees, what matters today is the work environment and managers who care for their development. Women are perfect for this role, thanks to which they will be promoted faster in a natural way, and they will take the reins of the organization more often.

The second thing that predisposes women to take on leadership roles is openness to new technologies. When it comes to using digital solutions and social media, it is women who deal with them very well and become leaders in this regard.

Paradoxically, new technologies may work against men. Currently, artificial intelligence is increasingly used in business. AI can do everything men do well, such as analytical and financial skills, but very little emotional intelligence. Women will integrate, or work well, with artificial intelligence.

A corporation of the future is a caring and supportive organization. In the twenty-first century, it is not only the so-called “hard power” but also the ability to build relationships – “soft power.” Maybe this time, paradoxically, stereotypes will work in favor of the so-called better gender and help to equalize the proportions in business. However, until women achieve the so-called critical mass, which parties can provide, and state policy will not promote partnership, increasing the importance of women in business will be challenging to achieve.


Beata Radomska – CEO, Executive Club

A graduate of the Faculty of Humanities of the Catholic University of Lublin and the University of Insurance and Banking (later Academy of Finance). Also a graduate of the MBA studies at the Kozminski University in Warsaw. In 1995-1996 she worked as a German translator at Hit Centrala Usługowa (later Tesco), in 1996-1998 at the Austrian brokerage company Allfinanz (a financial institution associated with the insurance and pension funds industry).

From 1998 to 2002, he was a Sales Manager at Skarbiec Emerytura and Skarbiec Serwis Finansowy. From 2003 to 2005, Development Director in the HRC Group. From 2005, President of the Executive Club.

Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Valeriia Honcharuk

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