Where are all the women in top management positions?
When I look back on my 18-year career in Human Resources, I recognize that a noteworthy progress has been made ౼ but I also know that true gender equality is still at stake today.
In Europe, women are sorely underrepresented in top management positions ౼ an imbalance that is even more pronounced in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as transport and logistics. It is clear that this has nothing to do with a lack of competence. In fact, studies show that women perform better than men in 17 out of 19 leadership competencies, particularly with tasks that involve taking initiative, being resilient, seeking self-development, being results-oriented or displaying integrity and honesty.
Women clearly have what it takes to be excellent managers and leaders. So why is there such an imbalance at the top? I think this can be explained once we acknowledge that there is a societal phenomenon occurring right now. Women are not only employees, managers or executives, they also play a crucial role in society at large. Typically, childcare and eldercare responsibilities ౼ and the “mental load” that goes along with those duties ౼ tend to be shouldered largely by women. This incredible responsibility is often not adequately taken into account in the professional realm ౼ on the contrary, around the world, women repeatedly experience bias and even consequences as a result.
At the same time, women are frequently their own worst critics. For example, when it comes to self-assessments, women generally perform poorly compared to their male colleagues ౼ especially younger women under 25 years of age. And while women tend to be more critical of their performance, men tend to be overconfident and believe themselves to be more competent than they actually are, which fuels the unconscious bias already present in hiring and promoting situations. With all of these factors at work, it’s no wonder why there are fewer women in management positions today.