Germany's Next Top Manager: Does Personality Explain the Gender Career Gap?

42 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 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

Abstract

The higher the hierarchical level, the fewer women are represented in management positions. Many studies have focused on the influence of human capital and other "objective" factors on career opportunities to explain this phenomenon. We are now looking at the impact of self-reported personality traits on gender differences in career chances and compare women and men in management positions and other white-collar employees in Germany's private sector 2007. While bivariate results based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) show that there are significant gender differences in personality traits, multivariate estimations and the decomposition of the gender career gap clearly indicate that these differences cannot account for gender differences in career opportunities. The decomposition shows that only 8.6 percent of the inequality of career chances between women and can be explained by differences in personality. Nevertheless, personality traits might indeed play a role, albeit more indirectly: Some of the stronger career effects, such as 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, J44, J71, M12, M14

Suggested Citation

Fietze, Simon and Holst, Elke and Tobsch, Verena, Germany's Next Top Manager: Does Personality Explain the Gender Career Gap?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5110. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1663130

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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