They are at the same time subjects of curiosity, admiration, and respect.
Women who hold the highest management positions stand out because they are few in number in a field that is still largely dominated by men. Who are these women who have successfully broken the glass ceiling? How did they do it? Do they face the same difficulties as their male counterparts? How and why do they become leaders?
To become a head of a company, women leaders mainly go through the creation or acquisition of a company, as well as through in-house promotion. However, in comparison with male managers, a higher percentage of women reach the top management positions through family business transfers and less through external recruitment.
Entrepreneurial spirit and professional growth are at the top of the list of reasons why women are willing to take over a company’s management. However, in contrast to 24% of men, 31% of women accepted the management position (KPMG study) because the opportunity presented itself, without them actively pursuing it. This shows that they know how to seize possibilities, but also that women still let themselves be driven instead of prompting change.
Women leaders are more likely to report a lack of assertiveness. Even at the same academic level as men, they are more likely to doubt their ability to lead a company. Here, too, the people around them are a great help in gaining some confidence. One in ten women still cites being a woman as another obstacle. Fortunately, this percentage is low.
This data shows that more in-depth work still needs to be done upstream with women so that they can feel more capable of taking control of a company at an equal level as men.
Among their motivations, women attach twice as much importance to customer relations, relationships with the company’s stakeholders, and the supervision of other people. Women managers are more convinced of the benefits of gender diversity in top management than men. They are more likely to perceive gender diversity as a source of power.
As a result, they are committed to improving the situation of women in the companies they lead. To do so, their main lever for action is the organization of working hours.
As for the male managers, although they also say they are committed to improving the situation of women, they still give priority mainly to listening and dialogue.
However, this willingness on the part of women managers to improve the status of women in the company does not necessarily lead them to favoritism when recruiting. Many women managers do not consider gender when hiring.
“Think manager, think human”
Female and male executives are therefore generally similar in terms of their motivations and the paths that lead them to the head of a company. Except for a few differences, the difficulties encountered along the way remain similar.
Even if the motivational elements may vary somewhat, the fact remains that female executives are just as successful. We are a long way from Virginia Schein’s expression, “Think manager, think male”. A better formulation would be: “thing manager, think human”. Woman or man alike.