Women as Managers Statistics

According to the United Nation's World's Women 2000 report, women's share of the administrative and managerial labor force is less than 30% in all regions of the world. In all regions, women's share of administrative and managerial professionals is less than their total share of the labor market. However, women's share of administrative and managerial workers rose in every region of the world, except Southern Asia, between 1980 and the early 1990s; women's share doubled in Western Asia (from 4 to 9%) and in sub-Saharan Africa (from 7 to 14%) (United Nations, 2000).

Even though the number of women in middle-management positions was 44% in the United States, for example, 1998 (Powell, 2000), women hold only 1-5% of top executive positions (Wirth, 2001). In the European Union countries women's share of top management positions has barely changed since the early 1990s, and has remained at less than 5% (Davidson & Burke, 2000). Women tend to hold top management positions in areas that are female dominated; for example, in Finland, in the hotel and catering business, human resource management, and public services. The smallest number of women in top positions can be found in male-dominated areas, such as heavy industry and the construction business, where the proportion of female leaders is under 10%. There are fewer female directors in an organization that employs mostly men (Kauppinen, 2002).

Alvesson and Due Billing (1997) argue that the number of women managers should increase not only because there should be equality between the sexes, but also because women can contribute to work life in a way that men cannot. They produce four reasons to support their case: (1) there should be equal opportunities for both sexes; (2) women's competencies should be fully utilized; (3) women's contribution as leaders should be taken into account, especially their values, experiences, and behavior; (4) women's alternative values enrich an organization and work life in general.

When it comes to political decision-making, only nine women in the world were heads of state or government during the first part of 2000 (United Nations, 2000). The Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland) have a number of women in high positions in government; for example, Finland has had a female president since 2000. The Finnish people's attitudes towards the female president were examined in the Gender Barometer 2001 (Melkas, 2002). The results indicated that both women and men, and especially women, thought that having a female president was important for equality between the sexes and that it signaled a change in the political climate. Iceland had a female president during the 1990s. In the Baltic States, Latvia has had a female president since 1999—a former professor of psychology in a Canadian university with a Latvian background. Studies show the same kinds of changes in attitudes regarding gender issues in Latvia as in Finland with the election of a female president.

On average, in 1999 one-third of members of parliament in the Nordic countries were women (Nordic Council of Ministers, 1999). In 2002, women's share in Sweden's parliament had risen from 43 to 45%, and the average age of members of parliament had decreased from 50 to 48 (Manninen, 2002). Even in 1999, Sweden had the highest percentage of women in parliament (43%), while Finland and Denmark both had 37%, Norway had 36%, and Iceland had 35%. The percentage of women in municipal councils in the Nordic countries was somewhat higher. In Sweden, 42% of members of municipal councils were women, and in Norway and Finland slightly less than 40%. Iceland's figure for 1999 was just over 30% and Denmark's was about 25% (Nordic Council of Ministers, 1999).

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