Gender pay gap still apparent in management posts

Access to management positions is not restricted for women in the Czech Republic; nevertheless, they face many obstacles in reaching the pay levels of men in similar positions. Women tend to occupy high posts in the services sector, in less-well paid branches of industry and in less prestigious companies. This is the main cause of the high gender pay gap in management, as is the concern over female managers’ ability to reconcile a demanding profession with family life.

About the project

In the period 2005–2008, the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (Výzkumný ústav práce a sociálních vĕcí, RILSA) implemented the Gender in management project (in Czech, 1Mb PDF), which analysed the position of women in relation to men in the same management jobs in Czech organisations. The project was supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí ČR, MPSV ČR) within the framework of the programme Modern society and its transformations (in Czech). The research examined the issue of how women and female managers reconcile the relationships between working, parental and social roles in the context of ‘equal opportunities for both sexes’, as well as analysing the professional position and status in life of women and men in management.

Within the scope of the project, an analysis was conducted of data from the Information system on average earnings (in Czech) operated by MPSV ČR. The selected group included some 73,330 managers from the Czech Republic, about 40% of whom were women. A manager was defined according to the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-88) as a Class 1 worker. The statistical analyses were followed up with a qualitative survey of employers (15 interviews) and representatives of staffing agencies, in addition to interviews with male and female managers – more specifically, with 15 women and 15 men from 21 companies.

Main findings

Women concentrated in particular sectors

The results of the analyses did not confirm the hypothesis that women are being excluded from strategic decision-making positions. The proportion of women in management corresponds to the predominance of women in certain branches of industry, which is particularly high in service activities in both the public and private sectors. On average, the women occupied two thirds of management positions in the services sector. With respect to horizontal segregation, female management appears to be evident in many sectors – such as in retail, hotels and restaurants, education, and health and social work.

The manufacturing branches of the primary and secondary sectors are characterised by a low proportion of women due to the more physically demanding work and disadvantageous working conditions involved. Overall, the primary sector includes agriculture, forestry, and mining and quarrying, while the secondary sector comprises most of the manufacturing branches. Thus, female participation is lower than average in the latter areas, constituting about one third of positions, many of which are concentrated in lower management positions.

Moreover, the vast majority of female managers (around two thirds) are concentrated in companies with below-average wages; in other words, they are not among the elite organisations.

Inequality in pay between women and men in management

Nevertheless, these differences in the distribution of women and men in management positions cannot explain the substantial wage gap to the detriment of women in management positions in the private sector. These differences are significantly higher than they are among ordinary employees. Data from the Czech Statistical Office (Český statistický úřad, ČSÚ) indicate that women earn the equivalent of about 75% of men’s incomes; however, this declines to about 50% of men’s wages in management positions.

Inequality in pay is concentrated in jobs for which wages and working conditions are the subject of individual negotiations. Such conditions are not set by a collective agreement nor an in-house regulation, as they are for most employees. Female managers themselves admit that, when negotiating management contracts, they tend to undersell themselves in terms of wages. Self-fulfilment in the management process is a stronger motive than salary levels.

Reconciling work and family life among female managers

Women in the Czech Republic are not prevented from progressing to the highest management positions in organisations. From the perspective of supply and demand, however, the value that is placed on women’s work is influenced by concerns about female managers’ capacity to balance their work and private life. Enduring stereotypes regarding the behaviour of both sexes are often the source of these concerns.

Women obtain management positions with a lower wage evaluation compared with men. Family caring responsibilities are a focal point for many women, with almost half of female managers looking after the household, on average, for between two and four hours a day. Moreover, due to the low wage levels of female managers, they do not often avail of domestic help services. To reduce the amount of time that women devote to looking after the household and children, they require greater support from their family and those around them. So far, employers in the Czech Republic have not offered any significant assistance in this respect.

Career path of female managers

The following table provides an overview of the career path of female managers. As the findings show, a significant problem being faced by these women is the difficulty involved in reconciling work and family life in a demanding profession.

Career path characteristics of female managers, by age
Age group Characteristics
20–29 years A relatively high proportion of women in this age group have access to management positions; women are not at a disadvantage in their home life nor in employment.
30–39 years The proportion of women in management declines significantly in this age group; the demands of childcare on their time limits their readiness to work and women may become professionally inactive, while men continue to develop their careers.
40–49 years Children’s growing ‘independence’ or the transfer of their care to school institutions, in particular, increases women’s readiness to work; therefore, the proportion of women in management positions rises in this age group.
50–59 years The relatively high participation of women in management in this age group has declined in recent years; this is partly related to the lower age limit for retirement and the greater inclination among these women to avail of this opportunity.
60 years The number of female managers in this age group significantly declines as most women have opted for retirement at this stage.

Source: Vlach, 2005


Dudová, R., Křížková, A. and Fischlová, D., Gender v managementu: kvalitativní výzkum podmínek a nerovností v ČR (in Czech, 868Kb PDF) [Gender in management: Qualitative research on conditions and inequality in the Czech Republic], Prague, RILSA, 2006.

Gazdagová, M. and Fischlová, D., Sondáž postojů zaměstnavatelů k uplatnění žen v managementu a zkušeností s nimi (kvalitativní šetření s vybranými representanty zaměstnavatelů) (in Czech, 386Kb PDF) [A survey of attitudes among employers to women applying themselves in management and experiences with them (qualitative research with selected employee representatives)], Prague, RILSA, 2006.

Jurajda, Š. and Paligorová, T., Female managers and their wages in Central Europe, Mimeo, Prague, Centre for Economic Research and Graduate Education-Economics Institute (CERGE-EI), 2006.

Lubinová, Š., Výsledky průzkumu mezi manažerkami [Results of a survey of female managers], Prague, Female Managers’ Club of the Czech Management Association (Klub manažerek při České manažerské asociaci, ČMA), 2008.

Vlach, J., Šetření výdělkové nerovnosti žen a mužů v management (in Czech, 515Kb PDF) [An investigation of inequality in pay between men and women], Prague, RILSA, 2005.

Vlach, J., Šnajdrová, Z., Kozelský, T. and Musil, J., Gender v managementu [Gender in management], Prague, RILSA, 2006.

Tomas Kozelsky, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (RILSA)




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