Wo.Man : Women in management project

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The early careers of female managers. Facts and discourses in four European countries


The Women in Management project will examine the mechanisms at work in women's access to, pursuit of and advancement in management occupations. The project will focus on the early careers of female managers in four societal contexts (France, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden).

The standpoint taken in this study is to focus on this stage in the working life, during which women are caught up in the intensity of their investment in their careers and may at the same time be directing much of their energy into starting a family. The project aims to combine several levels of analysis simultaneously: the individual level, the level of organisational HRM practices and that of public action. The general hypothesis is that women's place in management occupations differs in each of the countries under investigation.

In France, women have about 30% fewer opportunities than men to become managers
The question at the heart of the project reflects the goal of equality at work between men and women that has been a declared objective of the European Union ever since its foundation and was reaffirmed in the 1990s in successive treaties in which the promotion of women's access to positions of responsibility was a key element. For all that, the goals are still far from achieved: in the European Union in 2014, only one third of managers were women  in 2013. In France, women are about 30% less likely than men to become managers or to pursue a higher intellectual or liberal profession.

Funding from the Agence nationale de la recherche

This project has obtained funding from the ANR for 48 months following the 2016 call for tenders for collaborative research projects and will get under way in the last quarter of this year.

The reply to the call for tenders follows on from two research agreements with the GIS IdG Gender Institute, on the one hand, and APEC, on the other. Under the terms of these agreements, a European seminar was held jointly with the partner organisations in Paris in June 2015. This seminar brought together researchers from 8 EU member states with the aim of reviewing the employment of young women in management positions. Each of these national reviews was carried out with a view to developing a comparative research project.


An international team

Three teams in France will be involved in the project: Lest, the coordinating team with two academics, Clerse, also with two academics (senior lecturers), and two research officers from Céreq. Besides the French teams, a further 5 researchers from the UK, Sweden and Switzerland will also contribute to the project. Vanessa di Paola, director of the associated centre in Aix en Provence, will be the overall coordinator for the project.


Quantitative and qualitative analyses

The methodology will comprise both quantitative and qualitative analyses and will make use of the tools of both economics and sociology. For the quantitative analysis, the project will draw on data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Eurostat's SILC on earnings and living conditions. The proposed qualitative analysis is innovative, since it will be based on a single large French company with subsidiaries in three other countries. This will make it possible to investigate how the same corporate culture, combined with a transnational HR policy, can produce more or less standardised managerial career trajectories likely to come into conflict with individual behaviours and strategies'.


Contacts (Céreq): Vanessa di Paola, Dominique Epiphane, Thomas Couppie, Arnaud Dupray