Few and stressed: the point on women managers in Italy

Salary, workload and work-life balance do not satisfy Italian women in top roles

The number of female managers in Italy increases but still remains very far from that of men: every 3 managers, 2 are men, one is a woman. The relationship worsens in roles of greater responsibility since, as reported by the latest data from Manageritalia, out of 5 executives, only one is a woman.

And of these, how many are happy? The study “Do satisfaction, gender issues, and financial inclusion impact Italian female managers?” attempted to answer this question. created by economists Rosella Castellano (University of Unitelma Sapienza of Rome), Jessica Riccioni (University of Roma Tre) and Azzurra Rinaldi (University of Unitelma Sapienza of Rome).

The paper was published in July in the Springer Nature group’s Review of managerial science and is the only one that comprehensively analyzes the female managerial world in Italy. The study is based on a questionnaire which was attended by 456 female managers, mostly over 40 who work in the North and in 75% of cases they have at most one child.

What makes Italian managers unhappy

The study analyzes the professional satisfaction of Italian women managers in relation to purely working life, personal life and welfare for families. Three major reasons for dissatisfaction emerged from the questionnaire:

– salaries;

– the workload;

– the difficulties in reconciling work with private life

The balance between work and personal life, the famous work-life balance, is a problem for 4 out of 10 managers and is the leading cause of dissatisfaction in the 40-50 age group. This data is affected by the Italian welfare, considered insufficient especially in the face of the enormous tax burden. The welfare system affects the life choices of managers: “The decision to have children is linked to the presence of widespread and accessible services” explains Azzurra Rinaldi to Corriere, so much so that “in the north, where there are more services for children and the elderly, the level of satisfaction is higher”.

Welfare alone is not enough, a less old-fashioned and more pragmatic work culture is also needed: “There is an internal evaluation system in companies that often penalizes top management who leave the office too often, as in the case of motherhood”, adds Rinaldi. Often female workers, especially in top positions, find themselves a having to choose between being a good mother or a good manager, without considering the time to dedicate to yourself. If this situation alone does not justify the demographic decline, it certainly requires reflections of a political nature.

Workload and salaries, what managers think

For one in 3 managers, one of the main reasons for job dissatisfaction is amount of work, excessive and stressful, especially for the over 50s. Unlike other countries, in Italy “We still have a twentieth-century culture, of physical presence. Especially in the centre-south we tend to spend a lot of time at work even if this doesn’t make us more productive, on the contrary”, Rinaldi continues.

Finally, the difference in wages between men and women, the so-called gender pay gap.

17% of managers stated that they received an insufficient salary or in any case lower than that of their colleagues, while 4 out of 10 have suffered the gap at least once. 65% of the interviewees encountered discrimination in managerial careers. Both trends are stronger in small businesses, but the problem is not just Italian: “No country has overcome the gender pay gap,” observes Rinaldi. In short, at all levels, with the same tasks, qualifications and time spent in the company, women are paid less.

In closing, the study leaves some hope: the numbers testify to an improvement, albeit very slow, but what bodes well for the future is above all the greater sensitivity of young companies for the gender gap and in general for ESG issues.