Women in Executive Positions: The Interweaving of Individuals and Macro-Institutional Dimensions

Sunday, June 26, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
832 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Vanessa di Paola, Aix-Marseille University, Lest, Marseille, France
Dominique Epiphane, CEREQ, Marseille, France
Stephanie Moullet, Aix-Marseille University, Lest, Marseille, France
Arnaud Dupray, CEREQ, Marseille, France
Occupational gender equality is on the European agenda since its inception. This goal was reiterated in the 90's in promoting the women's access to executive positions. Women are indeed less likely to become managers during their career, as illustrated by the literature on the glass ceiling. In 2014 in the European Union, women represent only 35% of managers (Eurostat, 2015). This proportion varies across countries and those characterized by the highest proportion of women in their active population are not necessarily those who display the highest rate of women’s access to executive positions (Blanchard et al. 2009).

We propose to study mechanisms at work influencing the chance to obtain managerial position for women in the first part of careers. Focusing on this period of life allows us to assess the impact of family events when promotions are the most likely.

Beyond individual factors, institutional and societal contexts more or less foster the chances of women to be manager. By societal contexts, we mean a combination of the legislative context - the laws in favor of professional equality – of the institutional environment - more or less favorable in terms of social policy schemes "family-friendly" - of the organizational and professional system - notably associated to various forms of gendered division of labor and occupations - and finally, of the gender ideology reflecting the state of the gender relations in a given society.

Thus we select a set of indicators characterizing these contexts to show if some dimensions have a decisive impact. Moreover, we assume that particular combinations of some of these factors are likely to intervene specifically on women's access to manager and professional positions. The results of previous research providing typologies will help us to define part of these combinations (Pfau-Effinger, 1998; Chang, 2000; Korpi et al., 2013).

The data used come from EU-LFS 2012-2014 surveys. The data collected for the European countries relate to the current situation on the labor market and provide information on the socio-demographic characteristics of workers, including their level of education but also their family situation. Our analysis uses a sample of 20 European countries that differ in terms of female participation to the labor market, division of activities between men and women, social and family policies... In the samples, we only retain the employed labor force with tertiary education and under 40 years old. The manager and professional positions are defined using the 1 and 2 One digit codes of ISCO, 2008.

We use a multi-level approach. This methodology allows highlighting how the institutional and societal context impacts the chances of becoming managers or professionals for young women relative to their male counterparts, given their individual characteristics. In addition, these contexts are likely to influence and modify the role of specific individual attributes like education or family situation for becoming executive. Our ambition is to identify several dimensions at the macro institutional level beyond individual factors - which could be the best levers to fight against this form of professional inequality.