Women in a workplace

Source: Anna Golis¸ PKF Malta¸ February 2014

Gender equality at work is the topic that many communities discuss about. While it is stressed by media and social networks¸ companies in order to improve their image among potential employees and business environment are implementing women employment policy. At the first glance we can point the reason¸ why women are considered to be less paid¸ less progressive in their careers¸ given less responsible tasks and not reaching leaders’ positions so quickly. The answer that may cross one’s mind is the family which is considered to be a priority for all women. For many circles women are meant to be the guard of hearth and home and are said to be affirmatively and proactively favoring family over career. Stereotypes are powerful in shaping attitudes and behaviors¸ and they are often misleading. Examinations of that issue were undertaken by intellectual milieu and are presented in the material below.

European Commission introduce the results of its examinations showing that the average percentage of representation of women on the boards of large listed companies in EU-27 is not more than 17% (2013). The highest level of female representation on boards occurs in Finland (29.1%) and Latvia (29%). In the end of that list we can find Romania (9.1%)¸ Cyprus (8.9%)¸ Estonia (8.1%)¸ Greece (7.3%)¸ Portugal (7.1%)¸ and Malta (2.8%) where women hold less than one in ten positions. Political and regulatory pressure accelerates progress. Initiatives undertaken by European Commission speeded up the percentage of the figure in the last 3 years (from 11.8% in 2010 to 16.6% in 2013). In most of the European countries that progress was reported¸ especially in France with +14.4% changes¸ Netherlands +8.7% and Italy +8.4%. But at the same time some of the countries recorded the decrease in female representation on boards¸ for instance Romania with -12.2%¸ Slovakia -2.0%¸ Hungary -1.5% and Poland -1.3%. It is worth underline that in every French company there is at least one woman in the board in comparison to Malta¸ where 80% of companies do not have any woman on the board¸ Estonia (62%)¸ Bulgaria (53%)¸ and Poland (53%).

According to the investigations of Catalyst Census in 2013¸ the percentage of women’s leadership position stagnated in the last few years. Between 2009 and 2013 we could observe that an amount of women being executive officers increased by 1.1% (from 13.5% in 2009 to 14.6% in 2013). But not for the whole period of time that being in question we could notice an increase. In 2011 the percentage decreased by 0.3% in comparison to the previous year. Since then we can notice just small¸ but progressive¸ fluctuation. We can observe slightly better statistics if it comes to the percentage of women holding board seats. In 2013 it was 16.9% of total seats and it increased by 7.3% in comparison to the year 1995 (9.6%). Women’s representation in Financial Post 500 leadership positions has slowly increased in recent years by 8.3% (from 6.2% in 1998 to 14.5% in 2011). With regard to Women’s Share of Financial Post 500 Senior/Corporate Officers the percentage shows permanent progress and considering 10-year period it has increased by 4.1% (14.0% in 2002 to 18.1% in 2012).

Data in McKinsey’s most recent survey of 60 major corporations show that both the number and the percentage of women fall off dramatically in the higher ranks of organizations. According to the corporate ladder only half of the women, who took at first entry-level position reached middle management and only 1 out of 46 make it to vice-president, senior vice-president or CEO. Considering all entry-level positions, women are majority with 53% presence but attracting attention to higher positions, the percentage of women being on directors’ position is 35%, and being CEO just 19%. The reason why this situation looks like could be explained by the desire to advance. 74% of men are willing to get a promotion to the next level and 36% of them want to reach CEO’s level. At the same time 69% of women want to hold the higher position, but just 18% want to become the CEO. Some women explain their decision by feeling comfortable in their present position, feel more connected with the lower staff and do not want to have more responsibilities as this could take more of their free time.

Survey and analysis were held also by Pew Research Center (2013) which explores the views, values and economic realities of women and men in the workplace. Interpreting the results we can read that today’s young women are starting their careers better educated than their male counterparts. 38% of women aged 25-32 have at least a four-year college degree diploma (for men it is 31%). In 2012, young women earned 93% of the average hourly wage of men the same age (in comparison in 1980 it was just 67%). The gender wage gap is getting smaller not only due to the rising earnings of women, but also to the falling earnings of men. Young women today are more likely than young men to say women are paid less for doing the same job and men have easier access to top executive jobs (more than 50% of men will not agree with those statements). It is also shown in the survey that investigated people still think society favors men over women and women are still more likely to state it. Women are also much more likely than men to say that more change is needed to achieve gender equality in the workplace. Women of all ages, just like men, want a secure job they enjoy, but they are less likely than men to ask for raises or aspire to top management jobs (especially at the age of 18-32). The percentage for both men and women decrease when they are in their 30s and 40s as they are becoming, in most of cases, working parents and some priorities change. Far more women (51%) than men (16%) say being a working parent has made it more difficult to advance their career. Among parents, women are much more likely than men to experience family-related career interruptions. According to the results 42% working mothers had to reduce working hours (28% of men), 39% of them had to take a significant amount of time off (24% of men), 27% had to quit the job (10%) and 13% of women turned down the promotion (10% of working fathers).

The Global Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women in four fundamental categories: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment. The four Nordic countries that have consistently held the highest positions in previous editions of the ranking continue to hold privileged positions. Iceland holds the top spot for the fifth consecutive year and therefore continues to be the country with the narrowest gender gap in the world. Finland continues to hold the second position, Norway follows next, Sweden continues to hold the fourth position. All Nordic countries and Denmark included have closed over 80% of the gender gap and thus serve as models and useful benchmarks for international comparison.


Source: “The Global Gender Gap Report 2013”, World Economic Forum

As presented statistics show the gender gap observed in a workplace is shrinking year by year. There are still a lot of things to do to close it. The most difficult to change seems to be the society’s mentality, stereotypes and the way of thinking and that need some time.


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