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Personality and Career: She's Got What It Takes

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  • Simon Fietze
  • Elke Holst
  • Verena Tobsch

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Fietze & Elke Holst & Verena Tobsch, 2009. "Personality and Career: She's Got What It Takes," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 250, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp250
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.345192.de/diw_sp0250.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Anne Busch & Elke Holst, 2011. "Gender-Specific Occupational Segregation, Glass Ceiling Effects, and Earnings in Managerial Positions: Results of a Fixed Effects Model," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 357, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Smith, Nina & Smith, Valdemar & Verner, Mette, 2011. "Why Are So Few Females Promoted into CEO and Vice-President Positions? Danish Empirical Evidence 1997-2007," IZA Discussion Papers 5961, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Brenzel, Hanna & Laible, Marie-Christine, 2016. "Does personality matter? : the impact of the big five on the migrant and gender wage gaps," IAB Discussion Paper 201626, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].

    More about this item

    Keywords

    personality; gender; career; leadership;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation

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