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Women Struggle With Power, Study Finds

Researchers interviewed 50 female executives and politicians from around the world.

PARIS — Despite an increase in the number of leading female executives, many still struggle with the notion of “power” and the masculine stereotypes it entails, according to a recent study.

French business school ESSEC’s senior professor Viviane de Beaufort, sponsored by global headhunting firm Boyden, went beyond quotas and into the world of women business leaders and their relationship with power.

“The problem is not with women’s skills, but with habits and behavior,” de Beaufort said at a lunch to reveal the results of the study. “Women are ill at ease with the masculine vision of power imposed on them.”

The 50 women executives and politicians interviewed for the study from around the world shared a sense of the responsibility, rather than the power, of their roles, including a duty to participate in changing the corporate or political system and greater respect for rules and principles, she said.

She said that such perspectives, coupled with the arrival of Generation Y in positions of power, were likely to change how corporate structures manage power in the future.

The study is set to be presented at the eighth edition of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society in Deauville, France, which opens Wednesday and groups together female leaders from around the world.

In a separate announcement, international management board watchdog Ethics & Boards said that as of Sept. 30, women accounted for 23.9 percent of the advisory boards and 8.9 percent of the executive committees of France’s CAC 40-listed companies.