Yet the women in charge are not the daughters of men who have set up the companies – the majority are employed managers, the figures from a TNS Infratest survey show.
The poll, conducted for Commerzbank, showed that women were more likely to head up companies in eastern Germany, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
Saxony-Anhalt showed the best figures, with 31 percent of companies being led by women. The worst place to be a woman manager seemed to be Hamburg, with just 14 percent of firms having female chief executives. Other northern states such as Bremen, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein were only marginally better.
Of Germany's 200 largest firms, in contrast, only 3.5 percent of managers were women, while not a single corporation listed on the DAX stock index had a woman CEO.
The younger generation of managers were more equally split between the genders than their elders, with those under 30 being 37 percent women.
The authors of the report said these people were likely to rise through management levels in the future, although women must be enabled to balance family and working life.
The sector with the highest level of women managers was healthcare, with 36 percent, while building, which included architects and real estate agents, came next with 22 percent. Traditionally male-dominated areas such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and machine tooling performed badly.
Once women were in office they tend to stay where they were – of those questioned, 39 percent of men were in their first management job, while the figure for women was 57 percent. Only one in ten of the women had experience in a large firm, while twice as many men did.
The subject of quotas to encourage companies to recruit and promote women to high positions has refused to go away in Germany, dividing politicians and businesses alike.