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GLO Discussion Paper No. 1276
Global Labor Organization (GLO), Essen
This study uses enterprise survey data from a sample of 26 countries to address the question "why are there too few women at the top of firms?". That is, it asks why the proportion of firms with females at the top is low in relation to the share of females in full-time employment. To reduce the risk of bias arising from a confounding variable the range of explanatory variables used was wide, including data at the level of the firm, sector and country. An important contribution to the analysis was made by the inclusion of national cultural attitudes. The most important findings of the enterprise level analysis were that foreign owned firms were statistically significantly less likely to employ a female top manager, that the pattern of female top managers by sector follows a wider pattern of gender segregation, and that national cultural attitudes are important in the determination of the gender of the top manager. Having established the importance of cultural attitudes in determination of the gender of top managers the study uses a second set of data to analyse national attitudes associated with hostility to female executives. Unsurprisingly this hostility to female executives is predominantly on the part of males rather than females but religion and a lack of education are important too. The paper contributes to the literature on gender in International Business and overlaps with the literature dealing with the need for affiliates to adjust to local culture.
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Working Paper

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