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Sweden – Women less keen to become managers

13 February 2012

With skills shortages on the increase in Sweden, a third of employees, especially women, cannot imagine ever becoming a boss or manager in the span of their career. This is according to the latest Work Life survey by Manpower Sweden which also found that another third of those surveyed do dream of being the big boss within the next few years while the last third would consider becoming a manager at one point. 

Those who are keen to become managers in higher positions say that good mentoring, experience and a will to take on lots of managerial responsibility are amongst the main reasons to do so.

The survey, which was carried out in collaboration with Kairos Future and questioned over 8,000 people quizzed employees about their attitudes towards work-life. Surprisingly the survey found that there is a greater proportion of women who cannot imagine filling higher posts: a staggering 40% of women stated they never want to become managers, compared to 29% of men.

Liv Gorosch, who specialises in the recruitment of female managers in Sweden at Women Executive Search, says that this is becoming a growing problem in the country widening the gender gap. “Our competitors [other recruitment agencies] are calling us and saying they have been puzzled by clients not being able hire enough women [as managers].”

While this is a positive development in the sense that companies are becoming more and more aware of filling posts with women, Ms Gorosch also said that the staffing industry is very conservative and prone to gender stereotyping. “Women challenge the men. A woman who is strong headed is described as a "Saddam Hussein" type.”

CEO of ManpowerGroup Sweden, Peter Lundahl, meanwhile urged managers of leading companies to take matters into their own hands and improve this national dilemma. “We can confirm that it is difficult to recruit managers today in Sweden and according to our study, the proportion of those wanting to become managers is particularly low among women. We as managers must now actively motivate suitable candidates to become managers.”

The study also found a difference in the perception of leadership. Female managers are more demanding and more direct in their communication compared to male managers. 

There also appears to be a generation gap with younger managers wanting more control whereas older managers prefer giving employees more liberties in their jobs. 

The study said that this could “possibly indicate that Sweden is moving towards a more hierarchical and controlling leadership than has been the case in recent decades” with similar results having popped up in Norway. 

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