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Bachelorarbeit, 2010, 121 Seiten
1.1 Analysis of background
1.2 Research problem
1.3 Aims/ objectives
1.4 Purpose and justification for the research
1.5 Research methodology in brief
1.6 Outline plan and structure
2 The literature: The impact of the glass ceiling on women's career
2.1 Introduction to key terms and conceptual theories
2.1.1 The phenomena of the glass ceiling and glass walls
2.1.2 Vertical and horizontal segregation
2.1.3 Organizational, behavioral, cultural and structural explanations
2.2 Women's career barriers and enablers
2.2.1 Explanations beyond the glass ceiling's character
2.2.2 Roots of the glass ceiling
2.2.3 Dismantling the glass ceiling
3.1 Research methods
3.2 Research justification and appropriateness of methods
3.3 Description of procedure
3.3.1 Analysis criteria
3.3.2 Ethical considerations
4 Findings and analysis: Women's experiences and perceptions
4.1 Content analysis, explanation of procedure and justification
4.2 Profile of respondents
4.3 Differences in interviews
4.4 Women's career advancement despite of the glass ceiling
4.4.1 Female career goal setting
4.4.2 Career stories and gender-related incidents
4.4.3 Origins of the glass ceiling
4.4.4 Career advancement tools to dismantle the glass ceiling
5.1 Discussions, conclusions and implications of key issues
5.1.1 Discussion (I): From a glass ceiling to a labyrinth of obstacles
5.1.2 Conclusion of key issue I
5.1.3 Implication/ recommendation of key issue I
5.1.4 Discusssion (II): Explanations for the glass ceiling
5.1.5 Conclusion of key issue II
5.1.6 Implication/ recommendation of key issue II
5.1.7 Discussion (III): Career advancement tools
5.1.8 Conclusion of key issue III
5.1.9 Implication/ recommendation of key issue III
5.2 General conclusion of key issues
5.3 General implication/ recommendation of key issues
5.4 Learning process
5.5 Assessing the quality of the thesis
5.6 Future research
Appendix 1. Gender distribution of leaders of business in 2007
Appendix 2. Employment and relative income in the hospitality business
Appendix 3. Total E-quality check list
Appendix 4. Interview questions
Appendix 5. Sub-categories, generic categories and main category
Appendix 6. Examples of the development of sub-categories
Today, women represent 40 % of the labor force worldwide and continually climb up the hierarchical ladder of organizations. However, they do not overcome 20 % with regard to higher management levels. Interestingly, a share of only two to three percent of women is represented in executive management positions within globally relevant corporations. This number points out that the lack of females in top levels is a global phenomenon. (Wirth 2001, 25.)
According to Wirth, the situation of females in the labor market has enhanced in the last decades (Wirth 2001, 4). However, reports of the German Federal Statistical Office (2006, 28) show that in 2004, only 1.7 million female workers were holding senior positions in comparison to 3.3 million male workers in the service industry throughout Germany. Consequently, these figures lead to the assumption that obstacles in terms of the glass ceiling metaphor seem to exist. Knutson and Schmidgall (1999, 64) characterized a glass ceiling as “an invisible, generally artificial barrier that prevents qualified individuals such as women from advancing within the organization and reaching their full potential.” Prior researches indicated that obstacles that result in the glass ceiling effect are linked to disparities in, for instance, gender stereotypes as well as equal employment opportunities (Bell, McLaughlin & Sequera 2002, 68). In addition, according to Oakley (2000, 322), organizational, behavioral, cultural and structural explanations mirror barriers that lead to the glass ceiling.
“The more senior and well-paid the post, the more likely it is to be filled by a man, despite women’s numerical predominance in the industry” (Purcell 1996, 21). Keeping this meaningful quotation in mind, this research was conducted in order to provide women in the hospitality sector in Germany with ideas and promising steps to advance in their career by breaking the glass ceiling. Therefore, in combination with a literature review, in-depth and open-ended interviews with females working in leadership positions in the German hospitality industry were executed in order to identify personal experiences and interpretations of the issue.
Therefore, in the first step, detailed information about the meaning of the research topic will be given enabling the reader to understand the current relevance and necessity of the issue. Hence, the reader will become familiar with the research problem, objectives and receives an idea of how the topic is analyzed and discussed while simultaneously suitable solutions are being developed. For the gradual achievement of this aim, primarily, this introductory chapter begins with a general background of the subject to underline its importance as well as revealing further insights towards the justification of research, methodology and structure.
Nowadays, the service industry gains special importance when taking into account that a considerable amount of four million women were employed in the hospitality, transport and trade sector in Germany in 2004. Thus, the branch seems to be of particular interest for a large amount of women. Nevertheless, only one third of the executives of the service industry were women in 2004. (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 28.) According to Rolus (2002, 98-115), German companies appear to neglect women from being promoted. Koller-Teijero referred to the Hoppenstedt analysis about women in management in 1995 which revealed that only 8.2 % of the total management in companies in Germany were women. Actually, only 6.9 % of women worked in top management and 3.2 % of the highest top executives in large companies. (Weidner 1999, 22.)
Despite of adjustments by women in terms of higher educational levels, 70 % of the leading positions in 2006 were still held by men (Droßard 2008, 3-4). In 2004, 49 % of over 231,000 successfully passed exams at German universities were written by women. 42 % of the graduation year had a university degree, but only 3 % Bachelor and 2 % Master degree. The share of women in academic studies has increased in the last years. (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 16-23.)
Interestingly, Wirth did not doubt that the situation of women in the labor market has enhanced over the last decades as their admittance to education and development opportunities has improved. As a consequence, women nowadays possess the required qualifications to adopt jobs in higher management positions. However, although a greater amount of female employees enters higher-job levels, they remain underrepresented in senior management positions. These inequalities are reflected, for instance, in their participation in decision-making, payment differences and family commitment. Indeed, women tend to possess part-time or temporary jobs with lower value, status and insecure future prospects. Thus, one might hypothesize that women face constraints due to the glass ceiling effect in their advancement as their chances of being promoted seem to be limited to a certain degree. (Wirth 2001, 4-6.)
Female newcomers who have actually managed to advance to directors are given special attention by the media as they affirm the assumption of the fading of the glass ceiling. However, it was argued that leadership is still dominated by men. (Singh & Vinnicombe 2003, 349-351.) With regard to Germany, Professor Dr. Volkert of the University of Pforzheim was convinced that the German leadership elite is stamped by men since women virtually do not appear in top positions. Apparently, women obtain better A-levels and complete university studies earlier than men; after this point however, they are confronted with constraints. According to Volkert, the higher they attempt to climb up the career ladder, the more difficult it becomes. (Focus online 2009.)
Germany meets with 30 % of female executives the European average (see appendix 1). Indeed, the EU report 2009 stipulated gender inequality related to pay and leadership positions despite of some notable progress. The share of women in leadership positions remained constant; women stay in female sectors and seem to have fewer prospects than men. More than six million women between 25 and 49 years have mentioned their inability to perform work or only part time work due to family reasons. (Commission of the European Union 2009, 4-6.)
Furthermore, in Germany, the number of women in important economic areas still does not correspond proportionally to their share of the total population (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 3). Statistics reveal that the share of women of the entire population represented approximately 51 % meaning 42.1 million women out of 82.5 million in 2004. In Germany, women have an average of 1.4 children. It was argued that women generally select different occupations than men. Concerning the hotel business, approximately 23,000 women decided to learn “management assistant for the hotel industry” in 2004 in comparison to approximately 8.000 men. (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 10-19.)
In correspondence to the preliminary discussed background of the topic, the research in this thesis is concerned with the question of how women can break the glass ceiling in order to advance to executive positions in the German hospitality industry. The background analysis revealed that women seem to be underrepresented in valued and powerful jobs. Thus, taking this into consideration, one might hypothesize an interconnection between the glass ceiling and a scarcity of females in powerful positions in terms of stereotyping, equal employment opportunities and work-life balances.
In general, the human resources topic is related to the broader field of gender studies referring to differences in treatment, development and advancement of women in their profession. In particular, for the purpose of revealing the significance and relevance of the glass ceiling in the hospitality branch in Germany, this paper aims at obtaining specific findings from women in hotel leadership positions first hand, in order to properly discuss the topic. Hence, the reseach problem and its subquestion have been defined in figure 1.
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Figure 1. The main research question followed by a supporting sub-question
The research questions (figure 1) were developed from the sensitive and wide-ranging complex area of gender egalitarianism. I specifically intended to research the possibility for women to break the glass ceiling and advance to top positions. This purpose is reflected in the formulation of the research question starting with the interrogative pronoun “how”. Actually, the question was consciously phrased positively on the one hand while hypothesizing that women are able to ascend to higher levels in order to reveal ways of how female advancement can be realized. On the other hand, rather pessimistic associations can be derived from the term glass ceiling that refers to potential obstacles that hinder women from their professional development.
Hence, this combination of optimistic and pessimistic aspects mirror the predetermined directions and the potential of the research question in order to complete a lack of knowledge concerning female advancement tools in the German hospitality industry and making contributions to the research area in this context.
This thesis focused on one major objective: the identification of opportunities to break the glass ceiling. The dissertation objectives presented in figure 2 focus on the following elements.
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Figure 2. Summary of steps and aims that indicate the necessary steps in order to concentrate on the main objective of the dissertation
As a prerequisite, the objectives (figure 2) included portraying the current situation of women in the hospitality industry in Germany while simultaneously examining reasons for a lack of females in executive positions. Therefore, the process entailed the revelation of concrete problems that Germany seems to face when taking its low rate of females in the highest decision-making positions into account. Hence, underlying patterns of the characteristics that either encourage or limit women’s career development on the basis of experiences and perceptions will be identified leading to the third point in which focus will be laid on appropriate solutions. Consequently, in order to suggest ways for women to advance in their career, this research aimed at portraying tools with which women can manage the breaking of the glass ceiling.
Since the aspect of diversity in the hospitality industry gradually becomes a significant factor for global corporations, there is a definite need to successfully manage people and provide them with equal opportunities (Wirth 2001, 123). However, in reality, females dominate the hospitality branch number wise while they appear to be disadvantaged in reaching executive positions and general advancement opportunities. For this reason, from an economic, social and cultural point of view, women have to be recognized as a talented resource in order to contribute to the sustainable success of a company on the one hand and to the enrichment of a firm’s culture on the other. Indeed, the breaking of traditional restrictions associated with gender roles towards a future-oriented and open-minded society might be initiated. Therefore, it seems essential to acquire cognition about how to ultimately dismantle the glass ceiling.
Also confirmed by Bischoff (2005, 11) and Wunderer (1997, 5), the topic of equal treatment of men and women has widely disappeared from press spotlights and was only discussed in the context of “diversity management” or “balancing career and family”. The public must have come to the conclusion that everything has been undertaken to solve the problems of gender inequality.
Furthermore, it seems that most studies do not differentiate by industry and solely provide the audience with a general and broad picture of the issue. It appears that prior analyses have ignored to take particularly the impact of the glass ceiling in the hospitality industry in Germany into account as a lack of literature on this specific topic can be noticed.
Nevertheless, the topic seems to be up-to-date when taking into account that an online survey of 7.800 European employees of the well-known career portal “monster” revealed that a dominant majority of 80 % is convinced that women still face serious constraints during their career and 35 % do not predict any positive changes in the future. On the contrary, a rather small amount of 17 % believes that men and women have equal opportunities and 45 % recognize slow improvements of the situation. As Germany is one of the countries where positive changes are expected, there seems to be potential to break the glass ceiling for women. (Mendelson 2007.)
As nowadays, the glass ceiling represents a multipurpose research area since it has been a topic of interest for many researchers, still, there are many fields that have only partially been analyzed and there appears to be potential to develop further hypotheses and conclusions. According to Derry (1997, in Oakley 2000, 322), concepts that support women in their career advancement seem to concentrate majorly on female adjustments to fit in the existent cultural business norms instead of following their own paths. Interestingly, Burke, Koyuncu and Fiksenbaum (2008, 506-508) explored a range of factors that differentiate the management of the hospitality industry from other branches. Following their results, the hospitality sector is reliant on a substantial amount of work force, employees leaving the organizations on a frequent basis, labor force proportions mainly consisting of women, limited recognition of work and the round-the-clock operation. Therefore, I realized the importance to take these unique industry specific factors of the hospitality business into consideration.
Being a hospitality student, another crucial motivating factor in choosing the topic was my individual ambition to achieve a leading position in the industry. Indeed, this indicates that I was personally very interested in the outcomes of the research.
Since the topic was not only relevant for my personal future but also for other female hospitality students, it appears to be essential to provide them with accurate insights. Indeed, female students want to know about growth opportunities or possible obstacles to evaluate their career prospects. Hence, the research should give support and advice for women to guide them through a successful career. Also male academics should be informed about constraints that might prevent women from advancing and they should feel encouraged to think about ways to support them. These aspects also inspired me to show interest in the topic and specialize on the hospitality industry in Germany. To summarize, the research can not only be described as a personal milestone; in addition, it aims at evoking and deepening interest for various audiences.
For the purpose of meeting the research aims, a qualitative research approach was chosen to obtain empirical data in terms of learning about personal career fates and perceptions of interviewees in a curious and critical way. Hence, it appears to be more likely to obtain a definite answer to the proposed research questions than in quantitative research. As the topic of breaking the glass ceiling can be described as a sensitive issue this approach was chosen to manage complex and ambiguous data. (Trochim 2006.)
Moreover, the qualitative approach was taken on the basis of phenomenological motivations in order to understand how the glass ceiling metaphor appears to others on the basis of their subjective experiences and interpretations (Trochim 2006). Denscombe defined qualitative data as a “product of a process of interpretation.” Therefore, in terms of data analysis, data is being produced by a researcher with the objective to identify patterns and interconnections among natural ideas. (Denscombe 2003, 267.)
Face-to-face, open-ended and in-depth interviews with women in leading positions within the German hospitality industry were conducted. Semi-structured interview questions were used to guide the interviewees through the topics to be addressed during the interview in order to facilitate the process of comparing samples and to minimize the risk of different interpretations.
Nevertheless, the approach allowed flexibility, dependent on answers of the respondents, in order to learn deeper about individual experiences and thoughts. In this context, interviewees were given the opportunity to openly present their perceptions, advancement support or hindering incidents during their career from a female point of view. Naturally, the content of the interview questions corresponded to assumptions and key issues discussed in the literature review. In order to accomplish the overall aim, to identify own recommendations in terms of advancement tools to break the glass ceiling, results were summarized and addressed in chapter four and an answer to the proposed research question can be obtained in chapter five.
The outline plan (figure 3) summarizes the modus operandi of the research process in order to visualize the overall structure and guide the reader through the discussion about the impact of the glass ceiling on female career advancement and how to overcome these obstacles.
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Figure 3. General overview of the thesis structure
As illustrated in figure 3, the chapters in this thesis are written with reference to the overall research question and show how key issues and hypotheses are gradually developed towards conclusions, recommendations and new inspiring questions for further research.
In order to understand the general procedure of the thesis, it makes sense to mention the key stages in research proposed by Wilkinson (2000, 9):
- Choosing a focus for the research
- Research design
- Data collection
- Data analysis
- Writing up the results
Indeed, the first part of the thesis is concerned with an explanation of the focus of the topic while giving the reader brief insights into the research problem in order to raise interest already in the introductory chapter.
Furthermore, the determined aims that have been formed in accordance with the research question, lead to the research design in which for instance methodological and sample size decisions are being presented. Detailed descriptions can be found in the separate chapter methodology.
The proposal was used to concentrate on relevant sources during the data collection process in terms of literature and interviews. On the one hand, data analysis of literature can be found in chapter two in which the impact of the glass ceiling on women’s career advancement is discussed on the basis of theories and results from previous researchers; on the other hand, chapter four continues with the actual interview results.
Finally, these results are compared in the context of the research question and presented in the conclusions. Hence, recommendations were developed on the basis of the overall research results.
The following chapter is concerned with implications of the glass ceiling metaphor. Actually, the literature review is a significant part of this dissertation and provides the reader with an in-depth discussion of the impact of the glass ceiling on women’s career advancement. A significant number of argumentations by authors which conducted prior researches will be stipulated. These previous results are supportive in finding consistencies or inconsistencies in assumptions or conclusions. Identification of literature included the appropriate selection of books on the one hand. On the other, research articles, press releases as well as Internet sources created a framework for the research.
In a first step, the most relevant key terms and conceptual theories towards the impact of the glass ceiling will be identified and explained. In a next step, the description continues with explanations beyond the glass ceiling’s character in terms of critical perspectives and its consequences for women in leadership positions. The analysis is followed by the identification of roots of the glass ceiling that favor a lack of females in leadership positions finalized by ways of how to dismantle the glass ceiling.
In the following, key terms and conceptual theories as well as their interrelationships will be explained. The significance of the glass ceiling and so-called glass walls as well as inequalities behind them is demonstrated. Furthermore, vertical and occupational segregation will be presented in this context. Finally, sources of the glass ceiling are explored on the basis of organizational, cultural, behavioral and structural explanations.
These concepts and theories will accompany the reader throughout the thesis and are helpful to understand certain point of views, developments and actions suggested by prior researchers.
Before one attempts to achieve an insight into prior research results, it makes sense to replicate the definition of the term glass ceiling continued by a detailed description. As mentioned in the introduction, the glass ceiling can be referred to as “an invisible, generally artificial barrier that prevents qualified individuals such as women from advancing within the organization and reaching their full potential” (Knutson & Schmidgall 1999, 64).
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Figure 4. The glass ceiling and glass walls in the organizational pyramid (Wirth 2001, 48)
Wirth (2001, 1) reported that the glass ceiling reduces or eliminates the chance for women to obtain strategic executive positions as it is illustrated in figure 4. The glass ceiling is created by attitudinal and organizational biases and its dimensions are likely to exist at different levels in an organization as outlined in the pyramid shape; dependent on the organizational structure of the business, it may already start at junior or senior management level. Wirth hypothesized that the glass ceiling effect reaches its highest degree of distinctiveness where most power is performed. Moreover, most men enter positions that are situated on a higher level in the organizational pyramid whereas the majority of women start their career as support staff. (Wirth 2001, 25-26.)
Figure 4 determines the glass ceiling as a fixed ceiling to which qualified and ambitious women look up to. From their position below the glass ceiling they can observe what they are able to achieve; however, invisible obstacles complicate the breaking of the ceiling in comparison to men who can achieve the highest position in the pyramid more easily. (Maume 2004, 250-255.)
In addition to the glass ceiling, figure 4 is also concerned with so-called “glass walls” that prevent women from breaking into strategic positions. Glass walls express the limited chances of women to gather line and general management experience hindering women to advance to leadership positions. (Wirth 2001, 48.)
Apparently, only a few organizations invest in women’s career advancement. Therefore, Mattis argues that there is a strong tendency for women to start their own business or enter smaller entrepreneurial businesses. Noteworthy, Mattis showed that women working in smaller businesses refer to the glass ceiling for leaving the organization to a lesser extent than women in larger corporations. The author’s justification was based on the argumentation that smaller companies have fewer hierarchical layers and therefore fewer opportunities for vertical entries. (Mattis 2004, 159.)
Moreover, it makes sense to distinguish between horizontal segregation (occupational segregation) and vertical segregation.
On the one hand, horizontal segregation refers to different genders performing dissimilar jobs and professions due to gender inequality and societal attitudes. Genders tend to be employed by different occupations; women take female typical jobs in sectors associated with women; these “women’s jobs” are likely to be of lower value in terms of skills, requirements and rewards. (Wirth 2001, 10-13.)
On the other hand, it appears to be noteworthy to examine the extent to which men or women are represented in the hierarchical structure of organizations within specific professions. In that sense, taking into account that females dominate the hospitality branch number wise, men hold more responsible, challenging and skilled jobs. This reflects the idea of vertical segregation. Ascending in career stages towards more valued and better-paid positions will be challenging as organizational barriers exist. The glass ceiling generally corresponds to the idea of vertical segregation that consists of attributes of appreciation such as pay, status, control and authority. (Wirth 2001, 10-13.)
Hakim (1992, in Burgess 2003, 52) investigated that pay differentials among men and women depend on the extent of vertical segregation and suggested that salary equality is attended by a decrease in vertical segregation.
As it was mentioned in the introduction, according to Oakley, the following elements reflect upon obstacles that lead to the glass ceiling:
- Organizational explanations
- Behavioral and cultural explanations
- Structural and cultural explanations from feminist theory
Hence, she indicated that the glass ceiling is influenced by multifaceted obstacles that arise from men-made structures, behaviors, cultures and organizations. On the basis of her findings, Oakley argued that the glass ceiling should be treated as a severe ethical issue in business. The meanings of Oakley’s findings serve as approaches towards the understanding of potential barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential. (Oakley 2000, 322.)
On the one hand, organizational policies can represent obstacles in women’s career advancement in terms of disadvantages of training, recruitment, promotion and remuneration that can be associated as elements of the glass ceiling (Oakley 2000, 322-324).
On the other, however, barriers are identified beyond these organizational explanations. In this sense, Oakley additionally considers behavioral and cultural roots concerning dilemmas, leadership styles, “old boys’ network” and different perceptions of men and women regarding power. (Oakley 2000, 324-328.)
Moreover, Oakley mentioned structural issues from feminist theory as a further explanation for the glass ceiling effect. In this sense, she concluded that these explanations of control allotment constructed by gender can be categorized into the liberal feminist approach on the one hand and the radical feminist critique on the other. The liberal feminist aims at initiating alteration through enhancements concerning power and authority within existing structures; instead, the radical feminist critique focuses on questioning the effectiveness of the existing business model with regard to female expectations towards equal opportunities. (Oakley 2000, 331.)
With this understanding of the meaning of the above-mentioned key terms and theories in the context of gender inequality, the glass ceiling’s impact on hospitality leadership positions for women in Germany will be examined.
The following discussion will give insights into the key issues and hypotheses that have been identified on the basis of an analysis of the ambiguous views about the character of the glass ceiling, the development of the roots followed by suggestions to break the glass ceiling. The chapter is concluded by a brief summary of the literature review.
Before initially affiliating the elements that stamp the glass ceiling’s character, it makes sense to perceive the situation of women in the German hospitality service industry in comparison to other European Union member states. The share of women in the wider hotel and restaurant industry reaches 56 % within the European Union; in the national economy the figure of the general employment rate of women was stipulated as 44 % in 2006. Small businesses providing accommodation registered a women’s share of 62 %. (Eurostat 2007.)
Figures from 2006 concerning Germany indicated that 46 % of women were occupied from the total number of 37,267,000 employees. With regard to the German hotel and restaurant business, 60 % out of 1,371,000 employees were women. Furthermore, the income of women in the hotel and restaurant industry in 2005 indicated that women’s pay amounted to 76 % of the returns of men. The highest number of women is represented in Baltic EU member countries such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Only the four member states Malta, Greece, Italy and France have fewer women than men working in the hospitality industry. Numbers of all member countries of the EU revealed that women earn less than men. However, the pay gap reached is smallest distinction in Belgium, followed by Denmark, Malta, Finland, Bulgaria and Sweden. Most differences in payments were noted in Hungarian, Slovakia and Cyprus. Exact figures can be extracted from appendix 2. (Eurostat 2007.)
Research of Garavan, O’Brien and O’Hanlon (2006, in Burke 2008, 506) as well as Woods and Viehland (2000, in Burke 2008, 506) revealed that senior management positions especially finance, control and security departments are predominantly held by men; on the other hand, women find themselves as middle managers in housekeeping, front desk, human resources, conference and banquet. Further research indicated that even traditional female domains such as human resources bears differences in responsibilities between men and women at managerial level (Brandl, Mayrhofer & Reichel 2008, 67-68). This research was consistent with Belle (2002, 151-153) who found that women are excluded from powerful jobs. Additional results demonstrated that women have widely entered different occupations; however, vertical segregation seemed to remain as the likelihood of men and women to be occupied in jobs with different levels of responsibility within the organizational hierarchy appears to be high (Straub 2007, 296).
Interestingly, the share of women in self-employed occupations has increased by 3.3 % since 1992. In 2004, 1.1 million of 3.9 million self-employed individuals were women. (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 28.) Being underrepresented in top leadership positions, an increasing amount of females decide to start own businesses for gaining more flexibility and control. Concerning reasons for this development, it was argued that, due to inflexible work policies, women have become frustrated. (Mattis 2004, 154; Winn 2004, 143.)
Literature indicated that a pay gap between men and women represents a major disadvantage. Women’s payment is suggested to be influenced mostly by pay standards of past employments rather than on the value of the present job. Companies are still attempting to receive higher efforts from female workers for less compensation. (Burgess 2003, 51; Purcell 1996, 22.) According to Knutson and Schmidgall (1999, 69), women tend to accept lower payments and take the chance to prove themselves in order to receive more salary, a view confirmed by Burgess (2003, 51) who noted that “it’s still a man’s world” since managers are able to receive higher levels of commitment for less money from women.
The article from Mester (2009, 27) confirmed that women in Germany earn less than men even in entry level positions. It was discussed that men often behave more demanding and negotiate strictly about conditions. In the first three years women earn an average of 18.7 % less and after four to ten years even an average of 21.8 % less than men depending on the industry. Especially, during the financial crisis salaries of women in leading positions have been affected and organizations fail to reward women appropriately (Welt online 2009). However, figure 5 emphasizes that women seem to value colleagues and atmosphere over salary.
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Figure 5. The illustration gives insights which factors women seem to value most in jobs (Enkelmann 2002, 75-76)
The horizontal axis represents the level of importance and the vertical axis different categories that have been evaluated by respondents. Women appear to prefer an atmosphere with pleasant colleagues and tasks. By contrast, Enkelmann (2002, 75-76) mentioned that 80 % of men prioritize an appropriate salary.
According to Eagly and Carli, female workers face much more than the glass ceiling; they referred to “a sum of many obstacles” that prevent women from career advancement. Only six per cent of executives among the Fortune 500 companies are women; two per cent of Chief Executive Officer’s are females and 15 % of the boards of directors are women. The authors have also asked themselves about the reasons for denying power and authority from women. They do not regard the term glass ceiling as an adequate metaphor in this context as it stands for an invisible barrier at a certain stage in the hierarchy that women cannot go through. They argued that, actually, there have been few women that have reached executive positions proving that the meaning is wrong in some cases. In that sense, the authors doubt that the glass ceiling incorporates the diverse and complex aspects and challenges that women are confronted with. They prefer the term “labyrinth”, a symbol understood as a comprehensive and multifaceted journey to reach a certain goal which incorporates glass walls, obstacles and barriers at different levels. As a labyrinth requires its passers to be proactive and persistent in taking the right direction, the route is not straight towards the goal. Several barriers have to be overcome to continuously advance in the right direction. (Eagly & Carli 2007, 63-71.)
On the contrary, paradoxically, other researchers assess the possibility that women themselves create their own barriers and limit their career advancement themselves while using the glass ceiling as an excuse. Fetherolf Loutfi (2001, 392) confirmed that women seem incapable of breaking the glass ceiling and possess a lack of ambition in terms of self-awareness and commitment.
Koller-Tejeiro argued that women keep making the same mistakes. They are uncertain about professional aims and developments, a view also confirmed by Knutson and Schmidgall (1999, 69) arguing that women leave their career paths to chance. Koller-Tejeiro continued that women are longing to achieve both, a family life and a career; however, they overexert themselves and cannot possess the same competitiveness as men since they use energy and time to realize both aims. What is more, she argued that they are passively waiting to be discovered instead of being proactive and ambitious to strive for a successful career. Women tend to be rather sensitive when it comes to critics and do not appreciate their accomplishments with a self-depreciating attitude. Moreover, they avoid taking risks in comparison to men and spend too much time on weighing up pros and cons. It was argued that these actions lead women to lose sight of their positive strengths. She concluded that women have to fight for many developments: their aims, against structures, against machos, against jealousy of other women as well as own inherent stereotypes. (Weidner 1999, 26-34.)
Additionally, Bierach supported this view that can already be recognized by her book title “the foolish gender” (das dämliche Geschlecht). She argued that the female chancellor in Germany does not diminish the responsibility of women to actively fight for high management positions. Furthermore, according to Bierach, men should not be blamed for the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Germany since many women appear to behave “foolish, lazy and insincere”. The term foolish refers to the assumption that they do not take what they are entitled to; with lazy it is meant that around the age of 30 women tend to be exhausted from showing initiative for taking over projects, budgets and personnel; insincere, because they use the glass ceiling as an excuse to retire from business and focus rather on private life. Indeed, many women believe that they actually would have been a career woman, but as a caring mother they were obliged to sacrifice their personal ambitions. With a majority of 52 % females within Germany’s population, she assumed that it would be ambiguous to connect these decisions to a male complot against career women. She argued that responsibility lies within this female majority. (Bierach 2002, 6-15.) Driven by the decisions of women, she analyzed that many women quit their hard-won jobs intentionally (Bierach 2006, 23).
Furthermore, Bischoff (2004, 189) argued that the higher women advance in the hierarchy, the fewer actually want to climb up further. Hence, she continued that more men than women will dominate top positions in the future as actually 44 % of them want to advance in comparison to 32 % women. (Bischoff 2004, 290.)
Organizational actions can either weaken or enhance women’s career advancement. These practices cover for instance promotions, recruitments or payments. In this context, Oakley mentioned that acquiring operational or marketing line experience is a necessary tool and, more importantly, serves as a precondition for women to reach leadership positions; however, often these valuable experiences are not accessible by the female gender. Consequently, she continued arguing that this inappropriate career tracking results in the exclusion of women from powerful jobs. According to Oakley, line experience should be offered not later than in mid-career levels to ensure that thought has been given to choose women for vacant top positions. (Oakley 2000, 323-324.)
Moreover, this point of view was supported by Cross and Linehan (2006, 38) revealing that promotional perspectives of women seem to be limited due to decisions for a specific gender. They argued that businesses that continue to ignore expectations of women in professions will face a high female turnover rate.
Eyring and Stead (1998, 250-251) concluded that corporate practices in terms of “benchmarking” can be a successful tool for firms to assess their actions and strategies. Hence, organizations can assess their contributions towards the breaking of the glass ceiling. According to Oakley (2000, 323-324), policies between the 1960s and 1970s did not incorporate positive action programs that encouraged the advancement of women towards leading positions. Thus the likelihood of being promoted is lower than for their male counterparts. As changes in corporate practices in the areas mentioned have been introduced slowly and only in the last decades, Oakley argued that some executives are confident that women will have to wait 20 years to break the glass ceiling and enter executive levels.
In addition to corporate practices, Oakley (2000, 324) mentioned that behavioral and structural explanations in terms of, for instance, women’s general attraction to executive positions play a crucial role for female advancement in professions. They seem to feel more likely discomforting in powerful positions due to stereotyped behaviors. Interestingly, men seem to blame majorly corporate practices as barriers for women.
Tannen revealed that behaviors of men and women already bear differences in early childhoods. She argued that girls tend to find themselves in social roles in which it seems uncommon to be confident whereas boys are anticipated to highlight their status. According to Tannen, this development of girls and boys at early stages can be transferred to corporate work life and might present disadvantages when it comes to sustaining one’s position. Men are recognized rather than women due to articulation in terms of tone, pitch of voice, appearance and dress. (1994, in Oakley 2000, 325.) Furthermore, Gilligan pointed out that gender socialization educated boys with values such as fairness and girls with sensibility to feelings. On this basis, she argued that female and male genders have different ethical beliefs that accompany them during work. However, women’s emotions are perceived as weaknesses. (1982, in Oakley 2000, 327.)
Interestingly, results of the regional building society children barometer (Landesbausparkasse Kinderbarometer) indicated that children between 9 and 14 years in Germany are treated differently in terms of pocket money. German girls receive an average of 16,03 Euros in comparison to boys with 19,08 Euros. This behavior is practiced throughout different social groups and geographical regions. (Dewitz 2009.)
Furthermore, in this context, Oakley (2000, 324) took behavioral double binds, leadership styles, the “old boy’s network” and different attitudes and perceptions of women towards responsibility and authority for the glass ceiling effect into consideration.
Hence, double-binds can be described as a behavioral norm that is presented in a no-win situation. Apparently, no matter what efforts are being undertaken, one cannot succeed. For instance, executive women in leadership positions have to conform to male norms as being tough to be treated with appreciation. However, they are being evaluated critically and often perceived as foolish and aggressive. (Oakley 2000, 324-325.) As female managers in high hierarchical levels are surrounded by male peer groups they are likely to feel like an “outsider” and attempt to over identify and adapt to male colleagues while simultaneously acting deprecatory to women. This syndrome is often referred to as “Queen Bee syndrome” (Bienenköniginnensyndrom). (Wunderer 1997, 260.)
In this context, Jamieson (1995, 18) referred to a competency dilemma in balancing toughness and femininity in a leadership identity. Related to this angle of perception, Oakley (2000, 324-325) continued that they risk either acting too assertive or lack assertiveness during communications. She argued that this leads to the problem that women focus too much on self evaluation and lose their power for the relevant responsibilities.
In this context, psychologists distinguish between communal and agentic traits also referred to as female social- expressive and male instrumental styles (Eagly & Carli 2007, 65-67; Fetherolf Loutfi 2001, 396). Women seem to be associated with more communal personalities that are reflected in helpful, friendly, emotional and interpersonal communication skills. By contrast, men appear to possess qualities such as controlled aggression and ambition which are rather agentic. It was argued that communicating verbally and non-verbally is more risky for women than for men. They seem either too communal or adopt their style to an agentic extreme. Using self-promotion as a tool for advancement or intimidating others by words can limit their growth. Researchers argued that women’s decisions are taken more seriously and are criticized more frequently. (Assig 2001, 54-61; Eagli & Carli 2007, 66.)
Following a study of Catalyst, 96 % of women in executive positions think it is necessary to adapt a management style that men perceive as suitable. Apparently, the few women that have reached highly valued positions seem to have adapted themselves to a high extent to male cultures and norms. (Eagly & Carli 2007, 67.) Schaufler (2000, 9-19) argued that women tend to have a negative self-concept. Wunderer (1997, 262) confirmed these opinions and expressed the necessity for women to actively demand equal chances and develop higher expectations for success. Furthermore, it was argued that women are likely to feel that certain incidents have occurred as a consequence of coincidence or fortune. In contrast, men feel that these incidents occurred as a result of their own decisions and actions. (Fetherrolf Loutfi 2001, 393.)
Research results explored that female managers feel the need to over perform in order to prove their competency for themselves and male colleagues (Belle 2002, 154). Women seem to be confronted with “competency testing”, meaning, to give evidence to their abilities more often than men showing that women have to fight for jobs. Oakley concluded that being authentic as a woman might not correspond to the commonly accepted stereotypes regarding qualities of leaders. Hence, she mentioned that the need to change stereotypes before undertaking corporate trainings should be realized to succeed. The highest management has power to determine successors which might result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning an affirmed prediction since men tend to nominate men as replacements. (Oakley 2000, 330-332.)
Nowadays, flexibility determines success instead of power (Winn 2004, 143). According to Purcell (1996, 22), characteristics of female managers are hypothesized to be lacking in leadership qualities as they are insufficiently tough, an assumption that was also confirmed by Sandhu and Mehta (2008, 151). Tannen mentioned that abilities and behaviors of women appear to be regarded as deficits rather than promising potential. For example, a question following a female style will be proposed as “can you prepare this document for me by tomorrow” and differs from the male approach in terms of “have this document done by tomorrow”. The male question can be compared with a consequent and demanding order rather than a polite request whereas women’s formulation of questions is associated with a lack of confidence. (1994, in Oakley 2000, 325.)
Consequently, women are expected to adapt an order-oriented style and face the risk of losing authenticity. It was argued that norms are rather associated with men. Hence, women attempt to highlight their authority in conforming to masculine traits since otherwise, stereotyping might result in being regarded as less efficient. (Oakley 2000, 326.) However, research through job evaluations revealed that complex and responsible positions can be handled by women to the same magnitude as men (Wirth 2001, 10-13).
Another aspect that might hinder women from advancing is that men seem to fear a high amount of female competitors and regard this as a risk to the informal “old boy’s network” that only consists of powerful men. Power and competition advantages are transferred within the network. Moreover, if a considerable amount of women enters top positions, simultaneously, the existing “old boy’s network” will probably face changes concerning the dominating male norms. (Oakley 2000, 328-329.) Also Ostendorf argued that women seem to be excluded from the “old boys’ network” (1996, in Weidner 1999, 24). Apparently a critical amount of women is needed to fulfill them with confidence to advance (Zeit online 2008).
Cross and Linehan (2006, 38) suggested that networking and mentoring in business are mutually dependent. They continued that women do not have equal access to informal networks and therefore face complications in making themselves visible to potential mentors. Hence, it is rather difficult for them to take advantage of advices, general career guidance and professional integration offered by mentors. Knutson and Schmidgall (1999, 67-69) mentioned that the few mentoring opportunities for females are preventing women from advancing further. On the one hand, Burke and McKeen found that women indicated a missing attachment figure accompanying them on career paths as a reason for failures; women with mentors on the other, have experienced to break through the glass ceiling (1994, in Linehan & Scullion 2002, 84.)
Furthermore, Wunderer (1997, 261) brought forward the argument that women do not have enough positive idols in the industry that follow a personal female style. According to Singh, Vinnicombe and James, role models are important for advancement to guide women through their career. Nevertheless, a lack of female role models in businesses was stated resulting in disadvantages, especially for young female potentials. Hence, these young career starters are in the process of creating a professional personality. (Singh, Vinnicombe & James 2006, 68-69.) In the context of role models, Bandura described the social learning theory as a way of perceiving certain attitudes and actions of other people while taking results as well as consequences of each situation into consideration. This acquired insights based on experiences of others is used to develop personal behaviors in comparable situations they have observed since they expect similar effects. (1977, in Singh et al. 2006, 68-69.)
Moreover, an international study of 1,200 female and male managers conducted by Accenture showed that two thirds of chefs feel that a glass ceiling exists. In this context, interestingly, approximately 58 % of men and women feel that they are rewarded appropriately. In terms of job security, approximately 70 % of both gender indicated that they have the impression that their job is secure. (Presseportal 2006.) Nevertheless, other perceptions of men and women about career advancement differ substantially. Zhong and Crouch (2007, in Burke et al. 2008, 507) revealed that male and female hospitality students blamed different factors that hinder women from advancing in their career. While men suggested family constraints as a major reason, women referred to biases and discriminatory actions.
Ragins, Townsend and Mattis (1998, 33-35) have come to similar conclusions with a study that analyzed the perceptions of male and female managers holding senior positions. Men are also likely to connect the lack of women in senior positions with poorer experiences and skills that form the basic background for a successful career. Indeed, it was argued that men believe that it is necessary to be committed to business for an appropriate period of time in order to be able to acquire knowledge in, for example, general management and line jobs. However, women do not seem to blame such a timing issue for the dilemma. They argued that the society in organizations sticks to prejudices and stereotypes that negatively influence their behavior during work in terms of commitment and professionalism. Furthermore, women are suggested to put more effort in their job in order to receive a promotion than men (Knutson & Schmidgall 1999, 67).
A study by Mattis showed that 47 % of women feel that their accomplishments were not recognized and 34 % that they were not taken seriously. 29 % felt alone as one of the only women at the top and 27 % experienced only men being promoted. A further 21 % of them noticed the exclusion from networks and involvements in training. As a consequence, many women leave their job due to dissatisfaction. (Mattis 2004, 160.)
According to Oakley (2000, 331-332), these inequalities reflected in employment barriers may correspond to structural and cultural explanations from feminist theories. The liberal feminist approach concentrates on vertical and horizontal segregation based on the belief that equal and fair power distributions within businesses will be improved by restructuring processes. Nevertheless, Oakley argued that the radical feminist critique is capable of taking the actual reasons for inequalities, which were addressed as roots in this chapter, into account. Hence, the radical feminist critique scrutinizes the ability of the existing corporate model to meet women’s desires and expectations for gender equality. Ferguson stated that existing hierarchies in the bureaucratic business model found its origin from military models with patriarchal power distributions and therefore refers to a current “hierarchical-bureaucratic organizational model” which is not based on experiences incorporated by gender (1984, in Oakley 2000, 331).
Moreover, according to Wirth (2001, 16-20), barriers persist with regard to balancing work and life. She argued that society contexts still expect men to take responsibility of family finances; on the contrary, women are regarded as care giving and family-oriented individuals, a view also confirmed by Winn (2004, 147). Hence, according to Schwartz (1996, in Burgess 2003, 51), a business’s culture was “designed by men for men” and expects women to adopt male practices and behavior to be successful. Belle accused internal corporate policies as well as external barriers such as family challenges and social beliefs for a slower advancement of women (2002, 152).
Burgess (2003, 51-53) indicated that women are likely to undergo career breaks due to family considerations in the late 20s and early 30s as a major reason for the marginal share of women in leadership positions. Indeed, according to Morris, family issues represent the most crucial reason for leaving top executive positions since guilt, pressure and the sense of family responsibility prevail. Women with children face serious constraints in their career advancement with regard to ambition and loyalty through long working hours. (2002, in Winn 2004, 144-145.) The career development of women is demonstrated in figure 6, the M-shape.
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Figure 6. M-shape career interruptions (Wirth 2001, 4)
The x-axis represents the woman’s age while the y- axis demonstrates the position achieved. Before actually advancing to the top management positions, the figure depicts the hypothesis that most women leave their job for family reasons between their 20s and 30s. Consequently, they do not exceed middle management positions. In case they do decide to return to work, they restart their career at a low level and probably retire before they access top management.
Moreover, data revealed that in March 2004, 12.1 million women took care of their children. It was stipulated that married German women receive their first child at an average age of 30, their second child with 31 and the third child with 33 years. The development showed that women bear their children later than 10 years ago. In comparison to 1991, a period in time where women between the age of 25 and 29 were giving birth to 39 % of all children, in 2004, the majority of children was born by women between 30 and 34 years (31 %). However, today, the share of children that are born by women aged between 25 and 29 years is still high with 28 %. (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 40.)
In this context, Brizendine’s arguments are based on the assumption that the absence of women in top management levels is not reflected in any form of prejudices. Instead, according to Brizendine, the inequality is controlled by a time frame that hinders women from being promoted. The reason is embedded in the role as a mother. The moment to advance to the higher valued and respected positions is estimated to arise at the age of forty since managers will have acquired widespread experience and skills. She mentioned that this “Go-for-it-moment” should be postponed to a couple of years later since women are then more likely to follow their career ambition. As soon as that moment of advancement passes and women are not ready to advance at this life phase, organizations put their focus simultaneously on other promising younger candidates and exclude the candidacy of women in their fifties. (Brizendine 2008, 36.)
Therefore, it was argued that work tasks and family duties are obviously difficult to combine. Insufficient child care places, the absence of affordable kindergartens with long opening hours and full-time schools do not contribute to the situation. Advancement depends on putting career before family for a greater commitment. (Wirth 2001, 16-25.) Consequently, 42 % of women were part-time employees in comparison to 6 % of men in 2004 (Federal Statistical Office 2006, 29).
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