While in Norway women have been in charge of 40% of companies for the past 15 years, in Serbia this percentage is under 20%.
Marija Srdić, entrepreneur and a company owner, is among the very few female executives. On average, out of 10 entrepreneurs in Serbia, 3 are women. “The number of women in managerial positions in Serbia does not exceed a quarter,” Srdić, president of the section for the advancement of women’s leadership in the Union of Employers of Serbia, told the BBC.
“The rule also applies to state-owned companies: the more important and stronger the companies, there are fewer women running them,” Srdić warns.
On the day when Norway became the first country in the world 15 years ago where, by law, 40% of women must be members of boards of directors in companies, women are represented in the same positions in Serbia up to 25%, according to the research conducted by sociologist Marija Babovic.
“And in that case, they are usually deputies and executors, rather than decision-makers,” says Violeta Jovanovic, executive director of the National Alliance for Local Development (NALED).
Serbia got a new government in late October this year, and out of 23 ministries, ten are led by women. This is the largest number of women in this position since the introduction of the multi-party system in Serbia. In addition, the proposal of Minister Gordana Čomić was adopted, according to which 40% of women must be present in national and local electoral lists.
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In the biggest Serbian oil company, NIS, for example, out of 11 board members, 2 are women. One is Danica Draskovic, lawyer, publicist and wife of Vuk Draskovic, writer and politician. The second is Olga Visocka, whose CV states that she worked in management positions in numerous companies in Russia.
In Telekom Serbia, 2 out of 7 board members are women. In Telenor, two out of seven top executives are women – Finance Director and Human Resources Director.
Gender inequalities in the business sector reflect the overall gender inequalities in Serbia, according to a study by sociologist Marija Babović, which was done six years ago and commissioned by the Ministry of Labour.
“Our research data indicate a marked gender gap in the business sector. Women occupy only a quarter – 25.8% – of the highest decision-making positions in companies and make up just under a third of entrepreneurs, 31.7%,” says the survey.
The research also states that it is even more difficult for women to advance to higher management positions. Moreover, in other parts of Serbia, other than Belgrade, fewer women are top executives in companies they work for.
“I will give you a concrete example: I am the president of the Section for the Development of Women’s Leadership in the Union and we have taken a snapshot of the situation among our members where it was discovered that women own one third of the companies. This is a significant improvement trend compared to the previous period”. However, when it comes to making decisions, things are different, he concludes.
“As for the share of women among the general managers of major listed companies, Serbia, unfortunately, shares the destiny of most countries in terms of the total absence of women from these positions,” adds the research.
“The cause of all these differences are gender stereotypes”, says Marija Srdić from the Union of Employers of Serbia.
“Women in Serbia are more educated than men, but they do not get appointed to decision-making positions in companies,” she concludes.
This post is also available in: Italiano