Towards gender parity among executives, despite pockets of resistance

France has more than 5 million executives and people exercising an intellectual profession. The weight of women in this asset category has risen sharply to reach 42%. But this rate covers very contrasting situations: they still only represent less than a quarter of engineers and technical managers in companies.

The proportion of executives and engineers in the private sector declaring that they work on Saturdays or Sundays is lower than the average for the employed population.

From engineers to pharmacists, including teachers, artists and journalists … « In 2019, in France, 5.2 million people in employment within the meaning of the International Labor Office (BIT) are, in their main job, managers or higher intellectual professions. », according to a study published this Friday by INSEE. Their share in the total employed population, salaried or not, has more than doubled in forty years: it was 8% in 1982, it is now 19%.


Men are still in the majority within this social group. But parity is on the move. In 1982, women accounted for only 21%, while they held 41% of all jobs. In 2019, their number was multiplied by six, when that of executive men doubled. Women represented 42% of executives last year. Parity is therefore getting closer.

But this is the big picture. A more detailed analysis indeed shows the subsistence of pockets of resistance. Or rather a pocket of major resistance: the world of engineers and technical company executives. In all other occupations, the proportion of women exceeds 40%. Among engineers and technical company executives, it barely reaches 20%. Shortage of female candidates linked to a lower appetite of women for scientific studies, discrimination in hiring… The INSEE study does not say so. But the observation is in any case obvious that it is in part in access to scientific training courses that a good part of the march towards parity is to be found.

Major weight of training

This is all the more true since the INSEE study shows that nine out of ten executives have higher education qualifications, showing the major influence of training over internal promotion. This also explains the fact that only 3% are under 25, many entering the working world late because of their studies. The executives have a more stable job than the average, also shows the survey, which estimates at 84% the share of executives or exercising an intellectual profession in CDI, against 74% of the whole population in employment. There is very little part-time work and the proportion of people with contracts of less than 3 months is only 1%.

Little work on weekends

While the coronavirus epidemic has boosted home work and a negotiation on teleworking will open in which weeks, INSEE confirms that it was already a very widespread practice among executives. She emphasizes that« en 2019, 43% of executives have worked at least once from home over the past four weeks, while their place of work is not their home, against 18% for all employed people ”. This proportion is much higher among teachers and researchers (67% to 83%). One in two sales executives, for example, was in this case.

Defeating certain preconceived ideas in terms of working time, the survey shows, on the other hand, that a lower proportion than the average of the employed population works on Saturdays, Sundays or at night. It is of course pulled upwards by the arts and entertainment professions as well as by teachers and liberal professions but also downwards by private executives, engineers, technical or administrative and commercial executives.