A recent note on women in management by Eurofound, an EU agency, shows the size of the inequality. “In Europe there are twice as many men as women in senior roles”, sums up the report, bluntly.

Whereas 80 percent of workers occupy junior roles, and these are evenly split between between women (51 percent) and men (49 percent), only 36 percent of senior positions are held by women. And this under-representation is even more pronounced for senior managers.

Similarly, women who occupy managerial roles are much more likely to do so alongside women than men. So much so that half of European female workers have another woman as boss, against only 15 percent of men. “Women are more likely to manage younger workers (aged under 35) and those with part-time or temporary contracts or no contract at all”, says the study.

France towards the back of the class

The situation varies between countries. Only in Latvia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Hungary and Lithuania are more than 40 percent of senior employees women. At the other end of the ranking are Greece and Czechia, with only 26 percent and 27 percent women respectively. France, with 33 percent, is in the bottom half of the table.

Concerning types of employers, only in non-profit and public-sector organizations is there parity, or more women than men. But these sectors are small compared to the large majority of workers found in the private sector, where only 32 percent in senior jobs are women.

The survey on working conditions also highlights greater tension between professional and family life for women than for men. Women declare having less time to spend with family than men do. This can be explained in part by longer working time than that of men, when unpaid tasks such as housework and childcare are taken into account.

“Women in senior jobs do not enjoy the same level of wellbeing [at work] than their male counterparts in equivalent positions”, in part due to a greater difficulty in reconciling professional and private commitments. To succeed, senior women must put in more hours, paid or not, than non-senior women and senior men.

“These observations raise the question of whether the fact of paying a higher price in terms of work-family conflict, without the same advantages of improved wellbeing, is making senior jobs less attractive to women”, concludes the study.