Munich - Siemens' procurement chief Barbara Kux looks set to leave the company in 2013, five years after becoming the German engineering conglomerate's first female top manager.
Ranked fourth on Fortune's list of the 50 most powerful women in business outside the United States for a third year running, Kux previously worked at Philips, Ford, ABB, Nestlé and McKinsey.
But two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that Siemens' supervisory board will not renew Kux's contract. Siemens commonly decides whether to extend the contracts of top managers about a year before they run out.
The news, flagged earlier by German daily Financial Times Deutschland, comes as a surprise as procurement is expected to play a major role in Chief Executive Peter Loescher's new €6bn savings drive.
Kux came to Siemens from Philips in late 2008, a move that had German newspapers proclaiming "the womanless age at Siemens is over".
Corporate management is still heavily dominated by men in Germany, Europe's largest economy. Today only 4% of top German managers are female compared with an OECD average of 10%. Meanwhile, no more than 15% of German supervisory board members are female.
Deutsche Lufthansa earlier this year became the first German blue chip company to pick a woman as finance chief. Deutsche Post and BMW have also appointed women to their boards this year.
Only months before Kux's appointment Loescher had told a newspaper he felt his company's top management was too German, too white and too male for its own good.