Management positions: Men in the majority and women more often in part-time positions

Representative study by IU International University of Applied Sciences provides insights into gender distribution in leadership positions


Men are almost twice as likely to work in management positions as women. This shows the new representative study “Work and Career. Equal opportunities for everyone?” by IU.

  • Men outnumber women in leadership roles 
  • Women in leadership roles work part-time more often than men 
  • Women more often lead women than male superiors 
  • For women, children are more often a reason against renewed leadership responsibility 
  • Women are twice as likely as men to ask their employer for support with childcare 

Erfurt, 19 October 2023. Men work in management positions almost twice as often as women. This is shown by the new representative study "Work and career. Equal opportunities for all?" by IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU). According to the survey, one in three men (32.2 per cent) say they are in a managerial position. The figure for women is 17.6 per cent. 

And those women in management positions are also more likely to work part-time than men, according to the study: 31.3 per cent of women in managerial positions work 21 to 35 hours per week and 11.3 per cent work up to 20 hours part-time. Among male managers, half as many work part-time (15.1 percent, 21 to 35 hours per week and 4.9 percent, up to 20 hours per week). 

Another key finding of the IU study is that women are more likely to lead women: 42.0 per cent of women in management positions have a female manager. In contrast, 15.0 percent of male managers are led by a woman. But men also lead men significantly more often: 81.3 percent of men in leadership positions have a male superior. 

Prof. Dr. Alexandra Wuttig (Chancellor)

“In the end, gender is irrelevant. What is crucial is having leadership skills, such being able to inspire and motivate employees. And it should be possible to work flexibly, for both men and women”, said Prof. Dr. Alexandra Wuttig, Chancellor of IU International University of Applied Sciences and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

It is also interesting to note that, according to the IU study, gender does not seem to play a role in the role model function of managers. However, female managers are perceived as role models by both genders slightly more often than male managers: 44.2 percent of men and 44.4 percent of women perceive their direct male superior as a role model; 47.2 percent of men and 47.3 percent of women see their direct female executive as a role model. 

Children are more often a reason for women not to return to a leadership position: 11.4 percent of the women surveyed who held a leadership position in the past are currently no longer in a leadership position due to childbirth and parenthood. For men, the figure is 3.2 percent. 

The most frequently cited reasons by both genders for people who were in a leadership position but now no longer have leadership responsibility are: Change of company (women: 39.2 percent; men: 34.6 percent), professional reorientation (25 percent; 31.4 percent) and changed priorities (24.3 percent; 27.5 percent). 

Back to leadership: salary for all genders reason number one 

A third of men (32.8 per cent) who are not currently in a management position (any more) would like to be in a management position (again). Among women, slightly more than one in five (21.7 per cent) would like to take on a management role (again). Women and men cite similar reasons for wanting to move into management (again): "Higher salary" is cited most frequently (women: 69.9 percent; men: 66.2 percent), followed in second place by personal development (63.6 percent; 59.7 percent) and in third place by the answer "I would like to master new challenges" (56.8 percent; 46.6 percent). 

The answer "I want to advance my career" was the seventh most common reason given by both men and women (43.9 per cent; 44.0 per cent). 

Childcare support more often requested by women 

Another question was aimed at respondents who are not currently in a management role but who aspire to be in one in the future: "What actions by your employer would support you in taking on and maintaining a leadership role?" 
Both men and women cited training and development programmes (women: 63.1 per cent; men: 61.1 per cent) or salary increases (women: 60.9 per cent; men: 65.8 per cent). 

However, flexible working arrangements such as flexible working hours, flexible working arrangements and working time models are also frequently mentioned by both genders. Twice as many women as men (21.0 per cent vs. 10.9 per cent) would like their company to help them with childcare. 

Prof. Dr. Malte Martensen

“For leadership roles, skill and motivation are what matter. But it is also important for there to be structures that allow a leadership role to be effectively exercised. Mothers, but also fathers, are often faced with the challenge of balancing their work with their family responsibilities. Employers have an obligation: a change in culture towards real flexibility in working hours and working locations promotes equal opportunities and promotion prospects”, explains Prof. Dr. Malte Martensen, MBA Programme Director and Professor of Human Resources Management and Organisations at IU International University of Applied Sciences. 


The study "Work and Career. Equal opportunities for all?" by the IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) shows what is important to employees and why many women do not work in management positions. For the study, the IU surveyed 4,480 working people between the ages of 16 and 65 who are representative of the German labour market in terms of age and gender (*). 

The complete study is available for download here. 

(*) Although gender requires more than a binary classification into female and male, the data currently available for such an analysis are limited. In general, the numbers are too small to allow a breakdown by additional variables. Therefore, in this study, gender is only considered in a binary system.


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