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13.12.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2019

Schmalenbach Business Review 3/2019

The Second Glass Ceiling: Women’s Role in Supervisory Boards of German Firms

Zeitschrift:
Schmalenbach Business Review > Ausgabe 3/2019
Autoren:
Viktor Bozhinov, Christopher Koch, Thorsten Schank

Abstract

This study analyzes the role of women on supervisory boards of German companies. In particular, we investigate the likelihood of women to hold senior positions such as (vice) chair of the board and their membership in standing committees. Based on the logic of the lack of fit model, we argue that once women overcome the first glass ceiling and become board members, they still face a second glass ceiling preventing them from gaining senior board positions. We test our hypotheses using a sample of 103 parity co-determined and publicly quoted companies from 2009 to 2016. We find that women directors are underrepresented in senior board positions. This gap is particularly large and even increasing for the position of the board chair. It is also present for the position of the vice chair and (in the case of shareholder representatives) for memberships in standing committees except for the nomination committee. These findings are consistent with the presence of a second glass ceiling. Our study contributes to the literature on the prevalence of women in senior board positions. In particular, we provide novel evidence on the progress of women on boards in a two-tier system with co-determination. One potential implication of our study is that women’s influence on board decision-making might still be limited despite the recent increase of the number of women on boards.

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