Bad boss, macho corporate culture and a partner that does not support you; these are the barriers to advancement for women.

By Karin Bauer

This article was originally published on DERStandard's website. Click here to read the original article.

The old adage, ‘behind every successful man is a special woman,’ is reversed in Boyden’s study. For men in this context, it can mean a lot: absorbing the fact that their female partner has more power, having to take over traditional female activities at home, change nappies, take longer parental leave, deal with tutoring, the developing teenager and all kind of adolescent issues.

The study from management consultants Boyden does not go into any more detail on this. But in the 170 interviews with female top executives in eight European countries, factors that make women's careers possible and those that inhibit them become clear. It sounds a little trite and stark: ‘Choose the right boss. Choose the right partner. Choose the right company’.

"Nothing promotes women's careers more than a mentor on the executive floor and an open corporate culture without macho behaviour," comments Kerstin Roubin, executive director of executive search firm Boyden in Austria. In third place is the personal network for developing a career. That this starts at home is clear. Who makes it possible in partnerships and families to promote a career when there are other so-called ‘commitments’? Quite.

One in three respondents seems to have experience with it, because it seems the ‘wrong partner’, who is not supportive of a female career, is the biggest obstacle. So far, everything seems to reflect real life.

Comparison with other countries

But how does Austria compare with other European countries? Andreas Landgrebe, Boyden partner in Austria and co-author of the study, answers: “First, the academic environment in Austria (and Germany) does not sufficiently support the career ambitions of women. This is a disadvantage from the start,” says Landgrebe. But probably it is also reflection of the social anchoring of traditional images of women. The saying, ‘Behind every successful woman is a special man’ is not even in our vocabulary.

It is interesting that with regard to the inhibiting corporate culture, Old Boys Networks and machismo, Austria performs quite well.

Particularly interesting are the results from countries that like to be role models, such as those in Scandinavia. What Boyden brings to light suggests that the high proportion of female leaders in the region comes essentially from women adapting to male corporate cultures and the corresponding performance requirements, because 83 percent of those women consider leadership roles impossible on a part-time basis. Women in German-speaking countries seem to retain hope of being able to break open the attendance and performance cultures, because fewer there, 60 percent, consider leadership roles part-time to be impossible.

Relying on the widespread evidence of better economic performance from mixed teams, Boyden offers companies some help against these hurdles. Internally, this means #DisruptTheNorm for these executive search consultants. Trina Gordon as the female CEO of Boyden could have a lot to do with it. (Karin Bauer, 10.11.2018)

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