Women in Leadership

A generation of brave women faced discrimination and gender bias when they entered the work force in earnest during the 1970’s.  We owe a lot to these pioneers who persevered in the face of adversity so that women today have the option of working. Studies show that today’s female leaders work more often in supervisory or managerial positions than in top administrative positions, and that the structural and attitudinal glass ceiling is still a factor with which women must contend. (Schein, 164) The issue for the current generation of men and women centers on restructuring the work-family interface. What must change so that the work-family interface accommodates women who choose to have both a career and children? Men have a vested interest in facilitating necessary changes around this issue. Research shows men  benefit economically and personally when their wives are a part of the workforce. (St. George, 2) Together, men and women can enact changes in corporate policies that support working women, creating a workplace climate that supports workers and families.

There is an old calypso song covered by many artists entitled, Man Smart, Woman Smarter, and now current research seems to support that very notion. Anita Woolley and Thomas Malone discovered through research that if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises. Good groups have members who listen to each other, share criticism constructively, have open minds, and are more democratic rather than autocratic. (Wooley, 2) Although these characteristics are traditionally more female in nature, one may contend that either gender can embody these characteristics. It’s not about the gender in effective leadership as much as it is about the approach.

Society and culture will not evolve effectively if we apply gender bias in either direction. It is incumbent upon males and females alike to “provide opportunities for the most qualified of either sex to apply their talents and energies to the leadership of our public and private institutions”(Schein, 167).

References:

Schein, V. (2013). Would Women Lead Differently? In T. Wren (Ed.), The Leader’s
Companion: Insights on Leadership Through the Ages (pp. 1-549). New York,
NY: The Free Press. (Original work published 1989)

St. George, D. (2010, January 19). More Wives are the Higher-income Spouse, Pew
Report Says. The Washington Post, sec. A, p. 2.

Wooley, A., & Malone, T. (2011). Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team
Smarter? More Women. Harvard Business Review, 32-33.

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