Women are not a rarity in management offices. They just, more often than not, tend to sit behind the PA's desk rather than the manager’s chair. While some women aspire to secretarial greatness (behind every great manager, there is usually a great PA!) other's are dreaming of the next rung on the corporate ladder.
In spite of excellent training, ambition and the will to make it to the top in the world of high-flying executives and CEOs, comparatively few women succeed. They tend to remain just below the "glass ceiling” – so often invisible, but seemingly impossible to shatter.
"Women can clearly see the power structures in a company or organisation; they know who the decision-makers are and which positions they would need to occupy to play that role. But they don't rise into those circles. This is what is referred to as the glass ceiling," says sociologist Carsten Wippermann, who recently investigated the phenomenon with a team at the social research institute Sociovision.
Now, a team of scientists has done some research into the reasons behind this, focusing primarily on the role of male managers – men who are in the positions that many women are coveting.
Perhaps the study's most striking and important finding: it's not pregnancy or having children that gets in the way of women rising to the top. In fact, 61 percent of the women surveyed have children and perform an executive role all the same.
Instead, the biggest reason might be men – or rather, their attitudes. "We have found an interesting contradiction in men's heads. On the one hand, there is a great deal of goodwill and sympathy towards women. Male managers want more women in their ranks. But then the same men also have deep-seated reservations justifying why women can't actually occupy top positions," says Wippermann.