Female top Manager’s Underrepresentation and the Role of Social Capital in External Network: A Master Thesis of Female Top Manager’s Underrepresentation in the Danish Labour Market, and the Role of Social Capital in External Network

Martine Fjaer & Mia Amlie

Student thesis: Master thesis


Despite a virtuous progression due to an almost equal gender distribution in the Danish labour market, the percentage of female representation is far below what should have been expected in top management positions. In order to create an improved gender distribution for Danish organisations, it is essential for top managers to understand how the absence of female representation in top management positions can affect the company’s competitive advantage. Previous academic research on gender and leadership has been carried out concerning barriers due to gender. However, relatively few studies have explored women’s career advancement with regards to the access of social capital in external networks.
In order to explore how the involvement of female managers in external networks may affect women’s career advancement, a case study of EGN Denmark has been carried out. Furthermore, this master thesis has explored the sensemaking of female top managers in regards to their underrepresentation in top management and the following barriers. By using a social constructivist understanding of gender and an interpretive science theoretical paradigm, the study represents a gender construction and negations of how female top managers can enhance their career advancement as a result of gaining social capital through external networks.
The findings of this study indicate that the expectations of the recognizable gender and leadership are seen as barriers against the career advancement of women. The conclusion is based on an analysis of how the feminine attributes of women are seen as a deviation from the expectations of top management positions. Additionally, the study demonstrates that female top managers perceive it as necessary to negotiate the significance of their respective gender in regards to their position as a top manager.
Lastly, the findings of this study also indicate that social capital in external networks does have a role in the ascension of self-esteem, identity and career advancement. This is based on the analysis which reveals that women have access to a greater and more diversified group, which in turn provides access to more informational channels. However, current and future female top leaders also have the opportunity to increase the access to social capital by acting as role models and mentors for other women.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final ThesisMSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages193
SupervisorsLone Dalsgaard Dawe