Women only occupied one in four top management positions at German firms in 2016, a new government study has found.
Forty percent of jobs in middle management were occupied by women, the Institute for Labor Market and Occupation Research (IAB) said after the study's release on Tuesday.
The results, which were based on a survey of 16,000 of small and large businesses, showed mild improvements compared to 2004. Female representation improved two percentage points in top management and seven percentage points in middle management.
The IAB said companies were making more of an effort to improve gender equality, but that there was still much room for improvement.
"Firms are committing themselves more to introducing measures to achieve more gender equality," it said. "But the targeted support for women, particularly preparing them for leadership responsibilities, is still quite rare."
The study did find differences according to size and industry.
Large companies with more than 500 employees only had 13 percent female representation in their top management. For companies with under 10 employees, it was 28 percent.
Overall, female managers were most common in the health and education sectors. Yet their representation was far higher in middle management — 71 percent — than in top level management — 46 percent.
Lack of female representation has been controversial in Germany in the last few years. In August, Women's Affairs Minister Katarina Barley threatened to introduce a mandatory female quota if Germany's largest companies failed to put more women on their executive boards.