Personality and Career - She’s Got What it Takes

38 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2009 Last revised: 16 Dec 2010

See all articles by Simon Fietze

Simon Fietze

University of the German Federal Armed Forces - Helmut Schmidt Universität

Elke Holst

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel

Verena Tobsch

Helmut-Schmidt-University, Institute for HRM and International Management

Date Written: December 1, 2009

Abstract

The female share in management positions is quite low in Germany. The higher the hierarchical level, the fewer women there are in such positions. Men have numerous role models to follow whereas women lack this opportunity: In the executive boards of the top 200 private companies in Germany, only 2.5 percent of members are female. Many studies have focused on the influence of human capital and other "objective" factors on career opportunities. In our study, we go a step further by also looking at the impact of self-reported personality traits on gender differences in career chances. We compare managers and other white-collar employees in Germany’s private sector. While bivariate results based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in 2005 show that there are significant gender differences in personality traits, multivariate estimations clearly indicate that these differences cannot account for gender differences in career opportunities. Nevertheless, personality traits might indeed play a role, albeit more indirectly: some of the stronger career effects, such as work experience, long working hours, and labour market segregation, can also reflect differences in personality traits. These might have been influenced at an early stage by a gender-biased environment. Our results strongly stress the need for a gender-neutral environment outside and inside companies in order to enforce equal career opportunities for women and men.

Keywords: personality, gender, career, leadership

JEL Classification: J16, M12

Suggested Citation

Fietze, Simon and Holst, Elke and Tobsch, Verena, Personality and Career - She’s Got What it Takes (December 1, 2009). SOEPpaper No. 250; DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 955. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1524282 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1524282

Simon Fietze (Contact Author)

University of the German Federal Armed Forces - Helmut Schmidt Universität ( email )

Holstenhofweg 85
Hamburg, 22008
Germany

Elke Holst

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel ( email )

DIW Berlin
Berlin, Berlin 14191
Germany

Verena Tobsch

Helmut-Schmidt-University, Institute for HRM and International Management ( email )

Holstenhofweg 85
Hamburg, 22043
Germany

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