The Second Glass Ceiling: Women’s Role in Supervisory Boards of German Firms
- 54 Downloads
This study analyzes the role of women on supervisory boards of German companies. In particular, we investigate the likelihood of women to hold senior positions such as (vice) chair of the board and their membership in standing committees. Based on the logic of the lack of fit model, we argue that once women overcome the first glass ceiling and become board members, they still face a second glass ceiling preventing them from gaining senior board positions. We test our hypotheses using a sample of 103 parity co-determined and publicly quoted companies from 2009 to 2016. We find that women directors are underrepresented in senior board positions. This gap is particularly large and even increasing for the position of the board chair. It is also present for the position of the vice chair and (in the case of shareholder representatives) for memberships in standing committees except for the nomination committee. These findings are consistent with the presence of a second glass ceiling. Our study contributes to the literature on the prevalence of women in senior board positions. In particular, we provide novel evidence on the progress of women on boards in a two-tier system with co-determination. One potential implication of our study is that women’s influence on board decision-making might still be limited despite the recent increase of the number of women on boards.
KeywordsGender diversity Women on boards Senior board positions Board chair Board committees
JEL ClassificationG34 G38 J16
We would like to thank Laura Bilavski, Manuel Denzer, Christoph Eschenfelder, Christina Hentrich, Vera Steitz, and Jan Welsch for collecting the data. In addition, we are thankful for the comments of two anonymous reviewers, of seminar participants at the University of Mainz and the University of Tübingen as well as the participants of the XIX. Symposium zur Ökonomischen Analyse der Unternehmung in Frankfurt.
Conflict of interest
V. Bozhinov, C. Koch and T. Schank declare that they have no competing interests.
- Allport, Gordon W. 1954. The nature of prejudice. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Bilimoria, Diana, and Sandy K. Piderit. 1994. Board committee membership: Effects of sex-based bias. The Academy of Management Journal 37(6):1453–1477.Google Scholar
- BMFSFJ. 2010. Women in executive positions. Barriers and bridges. https://www.bmfsfj.de/blob/93878/24ef73d6200f47c4b5c25702af30bec4/frauen-in-fuehrungspositionen-englisch-data.pdf. Accessed 18 June 2018.Google Scholar
- Case, Susan S. 1993. The collaborative advantage: the usefulness of women’s language to contemporary business problems. Business in the Contemporary World 5(3):81–105.Google Scholar
- FidAr e. V.. 2017. Women on Board Index 160. https://www.fidar.de/wob-indizes-und-studien/wob-index/wob-index-archiv.html. Accessed 18 June 2018.Google Scholar
- Harrison, David A., Kenneth H. Price, and Myrtle P. Bell. 1998. Beyond relational demography: Time and the effects of surface- and deep-level diversity on work group cohesion. Academy of Management Journal 41(1):96–107.Google Scholar
- Heilman, Madeline E. 1983. Sex bias in work settings: the lack of fit model. Research in Organizational Behavior 5:269–298.Google Scholar
- Heilman, Madeline E., Caryn J. Block, and Richard F. Martell. 1995. Sex stereotypes: Do they influence perceptions of managers? Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 10(4):237–252.Google Scholar
- Kesner, Idalene F. 1988. Directors’ characteristics and committee membership: an investigation of type, occupation, tenure, and gender. The Academy of Management Journal 31(1):66–84.Google Scholar
- Reding, Viviane. 2013. Winning the board game: Europe’s economy needs more women in business. In Getting women on to corporate boards: a snowball starting in Norway, ed. Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen, and Marina Brogi, 201–209. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Schulz-Strelow, Monika. 2013. Women on boards: lessons learnt from Norway. In Getting women on to corporate boards: a snowball starting in Norway, ed. Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen, and Marina Brogi, 179–183. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Sealy, Ruth H.V., and Val Singh. 2010. The importance of role models and demographic context for senior women’s work identity development. International Journal of Management Reviews 12(3):284–300.Google Scholar
- Seierstad, Cathrine, Patricia Gabaldon, and Heike Mensi-Klarbach. 2017a. Volume 1: the use of different quota regulations. Gender diversity in the boardroom. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
- Seierstad, Cathrine, Patricia Gabaldon, and Heike Mensi-Klarbach. 2017b. Volume 2: Multiple approaches beyond quotas. Gender diversity in the boardroom. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar