gdi-consulting‘s 2013 panel: female managers in Austria on career ambitions - obstacles - quota
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gdi panel 2013: Majority of Female Managers in Austria willing to make Career – 3 main Obstacles – 4 of 5 pro-Quota

Susanne Schwanzer

gdi-consulting, an experts‘ consultinggroup focussing on gender, diversity and inclusion – conducted an online panel including 149 women in Austria. More than half of them claims to be career-oriented. Company-intern boundaries prevent them from pursuing their careerpaths straightly.
82,3% of those who took part are in favour of quota for women. Although only 10% believe to benefit personally if a compulsary quota is introduced.

57.7% of female managers in Austria aspire a higher position in the future – be it at their current employer or in a new company. This result comes from an online-survey, which gdi-consulting carried out among 149 women between january, 7th and february, 3rd 2013. They work in the private sector of economy or close to it. About more than a third, exactly 37.6% are not interessed to take a higher position in near future.

„Individual aspirations, personal desires and reality in many cases fall widely apart“, say Gerhild Deutinger, Gabriele Strodl-Sollak and Susanne Schwanzer, who published the study together. „There are still high obstacles who boycott straight careerpaths for women up to high and highest positions.“

3 CareerBblocks: Employers – Family Duties – Selfconsciousness

Most of all female managers feel hindered by company-intern structures and barriers. 56.8% of all ambitious women fail due to their employer. Either for lack of adequate positions in the company they work for. Or e.g. due to job descriptions which categorize them as an expert (= normally meaning no leadership responsibility and therefore no job title as a senior manager). This does not allow them to further climb up the ladder. 13.6% of all working women already made this experience. 8% of those who answered claimed to have been overseen when it came to a staffing.

Every fifth woman says, her family responsibilities are the main reason not to progress. This maybe childcare, elderly relatives who need care-taking or the combination of e.g. a post-graduate master-study which – in combination with house and family work – is prior to career steps for the time being.

Besides these two blockers, 21.6% of the women say a lack of self-confidence is the main reason why they are hesitating. They either do not yet trust their abiltities or they are waiting for the right moment.


Most women desire a shift in basic attitudes and values – both within their company’s corporate culture and society.

The overall agreement in favour of compulsory quota came as a surprise to the experts: 44% of those who answered the questionnaire claimed to be strong promoters of quota for women. 38,3% find it mainly positive – which makes up for a generally positive attitude of 82,3%.  Opposed to them 17.8% are against the quota, with 13,5% being slightly against, 4,3% being strictly against it.


The very small group of self-employed women (5% of the whole panel) contains the strongest promoters with half of them being „strongly in favour“. Second strongest promoters are the middle managers (47,5% strongly in favour). Female top managers are, with a minority of 40%, pro-quota. The group of women not holding leadership positions contains 37,8% of supporters.

The largest group of opponents to women’s quota can be found among top-managers, composed of directors and board members with a share of 13,3% being „strictly against“ it. Followed by middle managers with a share of 8,1% being strictly opposed to it. By far less opponents can be found among women without leadership duties (only 1,3%) and among self-employed women (see abouve).

Although the agreement in favour of quota is suprisingly  high – many women remain sceptical with regard to their personal benefits. Only one out of ten women believes, the quota will help her in her personal career progress. 25% are sure, not to benefit individually. „Remaining sceptical can have different reasons“, explain the authors of the study, Gerhild Deutinger, Susanne Schwanzer and Gabriele Strodl-Sollak: „On the one hand a compulsory quota in companies is an instrument which shows results only in the long run. For those women, willing to make the next step now, the effects will probably come too late. And second: There is still a high mistrust and prejudice against women’s quota. Mostly for the fear of unqualified women being lifted into higher positions, although they might not be up to the task. In Austria the term „quota“ needs to be reframed, if we want women to regard it as an effective instrument.“

Positive Actions most needed: A Change in Attittude towards career oriented Women – be it in Companies or Society


If women could make a wish for support they desire the most, their would call for changes in corporate cultures. Measures already taken – like e.g. mentoring programs – are regarded as being helpful – but not enough. They cannot break the glass – or in top management the concrete – ceilings – if the company does not create an open, transparent culture but instead is suspiciously observing female careers.

Therefore women ask most of all for a “solid base”: a corporate culture which encourages them and lets them progress, if they want to. Childcare provided by the company is also ranking highly on the list. The 3rd place goes to more flexible part-time models – esp. those allowing to reconcile part time with leading positions.

„Only if the companies’ programs – e.g. child care, personal development programs, mentoring programs – are embedded in a supportive, encouraging and transparent cultural climate, we can really label them as „ effective measures“  to promote women’s careers“, the authors state.

Apart from the corporate culture in the companies they work for, women expect the greatest breakthrough from a new contract within society. This includes a call for male partners to take parental leave or share care-responsibilities with them as well as new role models and more varying perceptions of „career women“.

Less demanded by those women who took part in gdi’s panel were new laws – despite  some women suggesting changes in school politics (e.g. more acccess to high-quality schools that provide day care and courses in the afternoon, shortened summer holidays).

About the authors and the design of the study

gdi-consulting is an experts‘ group of consultants who have profound knowledge and consulting experience in the field of gender and diversity management and inclusion strategies. Founded in 2012 by Gerhild Deuinger, Susanne Schwanzer and Gabriele Strodl-Sollak, gdi-consulting offers advice and support for companies which find more diverse boards and teams a crucial factor to ensure and improve business success.

The online panel was conducted from january, 7th to february, 3rd in 2013. 149 women took part in it.  10% come from small and very small companies with up to 10 employées, 20% work for small and medium sized companies with a number of employées ranging from 11 to 100. One third comes from larger companies with 101 up to 1.000 employées. 26,2 % did not have leadership positions yet, 56,4% were middle managers, 11,4% are top-managers and 5,4% are self-employed.