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The Gender Traits of Modern Leadership

As female leaders continue to succeed in both business and politics, Professor Gabriela Salinas explores why women in power are flourishing, especially during a time of crisis.

female leadership styles essay

Much has been written about how female leaders have managed the pandemic better than their male counterparts, the majority of which is based on anecdotal evidence and opinion. Summations aside, what is worth exploring is the fundamental question of why female leaders seem to be performing better during the crisis and what it says about modern leadership.

“The future is female,” slogan has experienced a rebirth since it first appeared on the scene in 1970s New York, and has recently been picked up by activists, influencers, and political leaders alike. Hillary Clinton declared it in her welcome to the inaugural 2017 Makers Conference and the activist musician Madame Gandhi launched a song with the slogan for its title and has focused on the theme in her music and work . This revival is hardly surprising in an environment reigned by “identity politics.” A simple Google search for “feminine leadership” renders some 33,000,000 results.

A number of studies have evidenced a link between female leadership and financial impact and social preference. For example, the Morgan Stanley Capital Index (MSCI) found that, in the period 2011-2014, companies with three or more women on the board had higher earnings per share and return on equity, compared to companies with zero female directors in the same period. In 2018, the financial services group Nordea proved the link between a larger share of female leaders and lower volatility in returns . And lastly, also in 2018, a study conducted by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll, and The Female Quotient, points to a notable change in the workplace with 50% of workers (including 46% of men) in the United States stating that they would prefer to work for a female-led company .

This is telling in the ways we do business are evolving – how we lead and follow, how we work. What is it about female leadership that is gaining traction and what are the unique traits of a feminine leadership style?

In their book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future , John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio set out to determine if, “due to the economy, technology, generational influences, globalization and other factors- people in general might be placing more value on the feminine side of human nature.”  They surveyed 64,000 people in 13 countries and found that 66% of those surveyed thought that “the world would be a better place if men thought more like women” and 57% of those surveyed are “dissatisfied with the conduct of men in their country.”

Feminine leadership styles strongly correlate to soft power attributes.

Gerzema and D’Antonio asked half their sample to classify 125 different human traits as either masculine, feminine, or neutral. Attributes like “rugged,” “dominant,” “aggressive,” “selfish,” and “hard working” were put into the masculine camp, while “selfless,” “patient,” “sensitive,” “sincere,” “nurturing,” and “trustworthy,” were considered feminine. They then presented the entire list of attributes to the other half of the sample and asked them to order the attributes based on their importance to leadership and success. By comparing the results from both samples, the researchers were able to determine the attributes that made for ideal modern leadership – and whether these were considered either masculine or feminine.

Today, given the current literature and research on gender in the workplace, it might be easy to foresee that the majority of Gerzema and D’Antonio’s best-ranked leadership attributes were feminine traits. At the time the book was published though (2013), the results were eye-opening – even if workers and leaders had been experiencing it for quite some time. Here was the data that showed that the definition of leadership had begun to change, and that masculine traits such as aggression and control – which were once considered the hallmark of strong leadership – were becoming less effective in contrast to feminine attributes such as collaboration and flexibility. The authors conclude in the book that in “a world that’s increasingly social, interdependent and transparent, (…) feminine values are ascendant.”

These feminine values are succeeding in the corporate world. Do they transfer to the world of public diplomacy and geopolitics?

Joseph Nye, the American political scientist and co-founder of the theory of neoliberalism, defined soft power as “the ability to influence the preferences and behaviors of various actors through attraction rather than coercion.” The concept has become increasingly relevant in the 21st century. Brand Finance, where I am Global Managing Director of the education division, released the Global Soft Power Index in February 2020 in an effort to measure a nation’s soft power, its levers and impact on prosperity. The study surveyed 55,000 people in 100 countries, including specialists and the general public, regarding what they considered to be nations’ presence, reputation, and impact on the world stage, based on a variety of attributes which we call the soft power pillars.

Figure 1: Soft Power Pillars

female leadership styles essay

Source: “Global Soft Power Index 2020”, Brand Finance

On average, the female-led nations on the Index – Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Myanmar – have a better reputation and a higher net positive influence than male-led nations. In particular, female-led nations outperform on Governance, International Relations, and Business & Trade. On average, of all the attributes measured by the Index, female-led nations were perceived to be significantly better in relation to three key themes: stability, safety and security, and trust and ethics, specifically:

  • Strong and stable economy
  • Acts to protect the environment
  • Good relations with other countries
  • Safe and secure
  • Appealing lifestyle
  • Politically stable and well-governed
  • Trustworthy
  • Strong educational system
  • High ethical standards, low corruption

In his book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek described how, nowadays, strong leaders are those who make others feel secure. It is no surprise that this concept of security and stability is among the common traits of female leaders during the pandemic, those who lead via clear communication and decisive action. In fact, even prior to the pandemic, most countries led by women outperformed those led by men with respect to protection, stability, and security. If anything, this leadership style has simply continued to flourish amidst the current demand for increased cooperation and multilateralism brought on by the crisis. An increasingly volatile world must be countered with leadership that focuses on cooperation, protection, and safety.

Of course, it is difficult to definitively prove which leadership traits – whether in business or politics – are feminine vs male and which have been the deciding factor in a particular success. The data – in addition to, yes, the anecdotes – highlights an evolution in leadership style, but so much depends on, for example, the length of time those female leaders have been in office and whether their position is a reflection of a more diverse and inclusive society. Nevertheless, “feminine values” do make a positive impact on a geopolitical level. While female leaders are not free of mistakes, feminine leadership styles strongly correlate to soft power attributes and these attributes are what can build positive influence and reputation on both the corporate and geopolitical level.

© IE Insights.

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female leadership styles essay

The Armor of a Personal Brand for Women Leaders

Female leaders often have to walk the tightrope between moving up the ladder and being liked. Professor Gabriela Salinas explains how a strong personal brand built on respect can enable women to achieve their long-term goals and overcome short-term unpopularity.

female leadership styles essay

A Personal Brand Is Not One Size Fits All

female leadership styles essay

Gender Diversity and the Route to the Top

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Essay: Women in leadership

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‘Women in leadership’ is a phenomena that has obtained many attention over the past couple of years. Nowadays more young woman graduate of Universities, yet the amount of female leader seems remarkable low (in 2012 only 16,6%). Many research has been accomplished in order to find out the differences between male and female leadership styles, the challenges women face in organisations, the traits women have to make and the influence of stereotyping on men and women. A significant number of organisations have diverse teams and claim they acknowledge the advantages of female leadership styles and know the positive influence of women in the organisation. Nevertheless, the traditional roles at home, the stereotyping and the ‘boys networking clubs’ seem to make it difficult for women on their way to the top. Even though organisations state they offer equal chances for men and women, women continue to make more traits and face more obstacles due to gender-based assumptions. Women and female leaders still face discrimination in organisations. This essay discusses reasons why women face discrimination, such as the communication style of women, work/family balance, stereotyping and networking based on academic research, statistical data, examples and expert quotes.

First of all women face discrimination, because organisations find a women’s communication style to emotional to be a representative leader. According to von Hippel et al. (2011, 1313) who held research about the stereotyping of women and compared a lot of research reports, state that a women’s communication style is focused on emotional, indirect and elaborate components, while a men’s communication style is instrumental, direct and compact. Another research report of Groysberg and Bell (2013) argues about the gender gap in the CEO-suite, argues that 8% of the women and 11% of the men state women have more interpersonal skills and show more empathy (Gorysberg & Dell 2013, 93). The findings about women their communication style confirm women are seen as less competent than men, because women do not show the male skills such as assertiveness (Eagly & Karau, 2002, Heilman, Wallen, Fuchs, & Tamkins, 2004, 1313).

However, women’s communication style is perceived as ‘better’ than men’s communication style. According to researchers Eberly & Fong (2013, 709) on ‘leading via heart and mind’ leaders need to have the skills to recognize their emotions and the influence of their emotions on their employees. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are better in identifying emotional needs of a situation (Humprey et al., 2008). The ability of emotionally intelligence leads to managing the emotions of oneself and their employees, can achieve a positive work surrounding and leads to better employee performance and motivation (Eberly & Fong 2013, 709). Furthermore, one respondent in a report of Vecchio (2003, 835) about the gender advantage states the following quote about female leadership: ‘Every study I’m aware of finds that women managers are more effective than men in decision making, analysis, so-called people skills and communications. Women have emotional x-ray vision. And they deliver results.’ -a female marketing consultant (Kleiman, 2003). On the other hand, women have a lack of authority and therefore women are perceived as less competent leaders (Hippel et al. 2011, 1313). As a result women seem less qualified for leadership positions (Hippel et al. 2011, 1313). According to Powell, Butterfield & Parent (2002) Schein (1975, 1313) the masculine characterises such as assertiveness and self-reliance, are seen as indicators for effective leadership style. Although research confirms women’s communication style leads to better performance, research indicates women still seem to suffer under the gender-based advantages of men.

Secondly, women face discrimination because organisations and men assume they put family first under all circumstances. According to Ely, Stone, and Ammerman (2014, 103), who surveyed more than 25,000 HBS graduates to collect data about women in leadership, conclude women and men think women develop more slowly due to the assumption that women find family more important than their career. 77 % of the HBS graduates state choosing family over work is holding women back to make a career (Ely, Stone, Ammerman 2014, 104). Also, more than 75% of the men expects their wife to take care of the children instead of having a career (Ely, Stone, Ammerman 2014, 106). Men still expect women to adjust their career to the traditional roles. Furthermore, more than half of the men finds their career more important than their wives career and think their career deserves more priority (Ely, Stone, Ammerman 2014, 106). Another notable assumption is that women are most of the time not considered for international opportunities (Gorysberg & Dell 2013, 91). For example, directors still assume women find it more difficult than men to leave their family for travelling or relocating due to work(Gorysberg & Dell 2013, 91). This leads to unequal chance for international functions.

On the contrary, women do leave the company due to child care and they start working part-time. According to Ely, Stone & Ammerman (2014, 104) women do leave the company to take care of the children. According to Sheryl Sandberg (CEO Facebook) women give up their career ambitions to have a family. Pip Jamieson, a business consultant and leadership coach, interviewed more than twenty senior female and male leaders about the differences of men and women in business. One of her respondents stated the following about working mothers (Jamieson, 2010, 36): ‘To be quite honest I could never do what I am doing if I had children.’ However, only 11% leaves the company due to fulltime childcare, the rest of the women are simply seeking for other jobs because their current jobs are not fulfilling enough (Ely, Stone & Ammerman 2014, 105). Many women do start working part-time and then never climb up the ladder. This might be true, but that has a reasonable explanation. Organisations still do not offer challenging and professional part-time jobs for working mothers (Ely, Stone & Ammerman 2014, 105). As a result, women have a lack in professional experience and that is why they cannot make it to the top (Ely, Stone & Ammerman 2014, 105). Also according to Sheryl Sandberg and Pip Jamieson, a work-life balance is hard for women. Many women are comparing themselves with fulltime mothers or fulltime workers (Sandberg, 2013). Women are self-critics and are eager to fulfil every role perfectly (Jamieson, 2010, 36). Sandberg states that the responsibilities at home should be balanced, however according to Ely, Stone & Ammerman (2014, 105) men are still traditional about the child care responsibilities. Also, organisations need to offer more family-friends benefits such as flexible working hours and child care for both men and women (Eagly & Carli, 2007, 69-70). The services organisations offer seem not to be sufficient enough to let mothers work.

Thirdly, women face discrimination because they are often shut out in networking events or meetings. According to Gloysberg & Connolly (2013, 71) who interviewed 24 CEO’s about diverse and inclusive organisations, state that seven of the CEOs said that being shut out from networks and conversations leads to less development and promotion of an employee. Men seem to shut out women. For example, Woods Staten (CEO Arcos Dorados, largest operator of McDonald’s), confirms that men ignore women and bond with other men by drinking together and meet up after meetings (Gloysberg & Connolly 2013, 71). According to Barry Salzberg (CEO Deloite) women have to deal with the ‘old boys’ network’: a typical masculine environment when they do fun activities like play golf and where it is difficult for women to fit in meetings (Gloysberg & Connolly 2013, 71).

Women may have the feeling they are excluded, but women do not participate in networking meetings. According to Gregory-Mina (2012, 66) who provided a literature review about gender issues, debates that women are less likely to take part of networking events due to family-work balance. Also women have less success in networking, because they want to use networking for social support and men want to use it for career growth (Gregory-Mina 2012, 69). However, organisations still do not offer enough mentoring opportunities for women. When organisations offer mentoring opportunities and they provide a male mentor, access to networks for women becomes easier (Gregory-Mina 2012, 69). According to Gloysberg & Connolly (2013, 75) organisations can offer sponsoring resource groups or mentoring in order to let women network. Also Sheryl Sandberg (2013, 87) states women should get a mentor in order to motivate women to climb up the ladder and become successful.

In summary, women and female leaders still face discrimination in organisations due to their communication skills, gender-based assumptions and exclusion of networks. A female communication style is the opposite of male communication style and the male communication style tends to be more effective. Another reason why women face discrimination is because of the assumption organisations and men seem to have that women chose family above all. Thirdly, women are excluded of networking opportunities. Yet, the opposites states that the emotional intelligence of women has positive impacts on employees and their productivity. However, women still suffer a lack of authority due to the male communication style. Furthermore women do leave the company to take care of the children. Nevertheless, they want to come back and work on their career, but organisations still do not offer enough family-friends benefits. At last, women leave after networking events which may indicate women do not want to network. On the contrary, they would like to network but they need a mentor that supports them and gives them advice. It is obvious that the prejudices of female behaviour still rule the organisations and the society. Companies should provide mentors to increase the access to networks, directors should embrace the female communication style and organisations should offer family-friend benefits. In that way the gender barriers will overcome and women will get more chances to climb up the ladder.

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Privacy Overview

The Benefits of Promoting Gender Diversity in Leadership

Emerging women leaders and senior leaders alike have an important role to play in ensuring the promotion of women from entry-level through the C-suite.

Mary Sharp Emerson

The key to achieving gender diversity at all levels of an organization is to ensure the success of women leaders in the earliest stages of their management career.

The corporate world has made progress improving gender diversity and bringing an increasing number of women into leadership roles at the executive and C-suite level. As of McKinsey’s 2018  Women in the Workplace  report, women comprise 19 percent of executive leadership positions. 

Despite this small step toward gender diversity in the C-suite, women of color continue to face significant barriers to entry into leadership roles. According to the same McKinsey report, women of color represent only 4 percent of C-suite positions. And as of a 2019  Harvard Business Review  study, there were no black women leading a Fortune 500 company.

Moreover, gender parity for all women remains elusive at lower and middle management, specifically within entry- and mid-level leadership roles. According to the most recent McKinsey data , women make up 48 percent of all entry-level hires but only 38 percent of first-level managers. 

What difference does that 10 percent make? 

A big one. Over the next five years, 1 million women will remain in entry-level or non-leadership roles while their male co-workers are promoted into more promising career paths. 

That long-term talent gap caused by the failure to promote women into entry- and mid-level management roles virtually guarantees that there will be a lack of qualified women for executive and C-suite leadership roles in the future. McKinsey refers to this talent gap as the “broken rung”  on the leadership ladder.

Closing that long-term talent gap will have long-term benefits for organizational success .

But doing so requires more than simply pointing out unconscious bias, identifying hidden stereotypes and common microaggressions, and paying lip service to gender and racial equality. 

Instead, it requires a prolonged and multi-faceted commitment by both men and women leaders to identify the obstacles facing women in leadership roles, especially for women of color.  

Here are some actionable tools and strategies to help women leaders achieve success at the same rate as their male peers.

Women in Leadership: Collaborative Program for Rising Women Leaders and Their Senior Managers

Senior Leaders Must Show the Way Toward Gender Diversity

The success of emerging women leaders depends heavily on the mid-level and senior managers (still predominantly white men) who are primarily responsible for their promotion. 

Thus, mid-level and senior leaders have an active role to play in ensuring that emerging women have the same opportunities for advancement, promotion, and career growth as their male co-workers.

Establish clear job performance evaluation criteria

According to  Women in the Workplace 2018 , women are less likely to get credit for successes and more likely to take criticism for failures. They often must provide more evidence of their competence and are more likely to have their judgement and decisions questioned.

These subtle barriers are even more common for women of color than for their white counterparts. For instance, women of color are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be mistaken for someone in a more junior role. According to the  HBR , nearly 50 percent of black and Latina scientists report being mistaken for administrative or janitorial staff.

Ensuring that women are fairly evaluated compared to their male counterparts through the hiring and promotion process requires clear and unbiased evaluation criteria. Moreover, employees must have the opportunity to highlight bias and identify stereotypes when encountered. 

Analyze corporate HR data by gender AND by race

While many companies track pay and other HR data by gender or by race, very few track by both. Yet according to a recent  Payscale  study, women of color make less even than white women at the beginning of their careers, a trend which only widens throughout their careers. 

Tracking critical HR data by a full suite of metrics, including both gender and race, will highlight potentially hidden disparities and help ensure that women of color, in particular, do not “fall through the cracks” between gender and race. 

Actively prepare women for leadership roles

As with men, women are more likely to be promoted if they are actively coached on career advancement. Senior leaders must ensure that emerging women leaders are given the same opportunities as their male counterparts to showcase their abilities, stretch their roles, network with senior leaders, and promote their visibility at the executive level.

Develop nuanced strategies for sponsorship

Women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. Many organizations have moved away from formal sponsorship programs because senior leaders can be wary of expending political capital on employees they may not be sure of 100 percent.

Mentorship versus sponsorship need not be an either-or proposition, however. 

As noted in a  2019 report  in Harvard Business Review, sponsorship, when done thoughtfully and strategically, can — and should — evolve authentically through a range of professional “support” roles.  

Discover the value of diverse leadership styles

Understanding the various ways in which men and women work, communicate, and lead is a critical step in promoting and achieving gender parity. Incorporating and encouraging those differences provides strength and flexibility to an organization’s leadership, and that diversity of thought can promote organizational success.

Be willing to engage in honest discussions of gender and racial bias

Enabling honest discussions about gender bias can be difficult for many managers. Adding factors of race into that discussion can make a difficult discussion feel impossible. 

Yet because women of color continue to experience specific microaggressions and hidden stereotypes at a rate greater than their white counterparts, diversity training programs must be designed to take an  “intersectional approach”  that incorporates open discussions of racial as well as gender bias in the workplace.

Make Gender Diversity an Essential Corporate Goal

Unfortunately, upward of  20 percent  of employees continue to feel that their organization’s commitment to gender diversity is little more than window dressing, while their commitment to promoting the leadership capabilities of women of color is practically nonexistent. 

For example, 41 percent of companies have specific targets for women leadership in senior and executive roles. However,  less than a third  have those same goals for gender parity at the level of emerging leaders. And corporate-wide targets designed to promote racial parity often neglect to incorporate gender. 

While many companies claim to be family friendly, women with children continue to pay a very real  penalty  for the so-called “second shift” of housework and child-rearing.

Thus, leaders at every level of the organization must share an ongoing commitment to actionable policies promoting gender and racial parity of all levels of leadership. They must actively work to identify and eliminate the very real obstacles that currently prevent talented and ambitious women, including women of color, from taking the next step into leadership.  

Without such decisive and critical steps, “the broken rung” will continue to inhibit women’s ability to lead and succeed, while organizations are left without the benefits and successes that stem directly from incorporating a true diversity of voices at the top. 

Find related Leadership and Management programs.

Browse all Professional & Executive Development programs.

About the Author

Digital Content Producer

Emerson is a Digital Content Producer at Harvard DCE. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and Yale University and started her career as an international affairs analyst. She is an avid triathlete and has completed three Ironman triathlons, as well as the Boston Marathon.

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Chapter 2: what makes a good leader, and does gender matter.

Which Leadership Traits Matter Most?

Roughly two-thirds of adults (67%) say that being organized is an essential quality in a leader. Somewhat smaller shares of the public say that being compassionate (57%), innovative (56%) or ambitious (53%) are essential for leadership.

Younger Women Say Ambition Is Key to Leadership

Larger gender gaps emerge on some of the other, less important traits. Women are much more likely than men to say that being compassionate is absolutely essential in a leader: 66% of women say this, compared with 47% of men. Women also place a higher value on innovation than men do. Some 61% of women consider this trait to be absolutely essential in a leader, compared with 51% of men.

In addition, women are more likely than men to say that ambition is an essential trait for a leader (57% of women and 48% of men say this is absolutely essential). This overall gender gap is driven by the younger generations—Millennials and Gen Xers. Fully 63% of Millennial women and 61% of Gen X women consider ambition an essential leadership trait, compared with 53% of Millennial men and only 43% of Gen X men.

Who Has the Right Stuff to Lead—Men or Women?

The public sees little distinction between men and women on several of these leadership traits. Large majorities say that when it comes to intelligence and innovation, men and women display those qualities equally. And solid majorities see no gender differences in ambition, honesty and decisiveness.

Women Seen as More Compassionate, Men More Decisive

The public is also much more likely to see women as being more organized than men, rather than vice versa. Fully 48% say being organized is more true of women than men, while only 4% say this quality is found more in men than women (46% say it’s true of both).

Women also have an advantage over men when it comes to honesty—one of the most crucial leadership traits, according to the public. Some 29% of all adults associate honesty more with women than men, while 3% say honesty applies more to men than women. A majority of adults (67%) say this characteristic is displayed equally by men and women.

While solid majorities of the public see no difference between men and women on decisiveness and ambition, among those who do draw a distinction on these traits, men have an edge over women. Some 27% of adults say that men are more decisive than women, while only 9% see women as more decisive than men. About six-in-ten (62%) say men and women are equally decisive. Similarly, while 21% of the public says men are more ambitious than women, half as many (9%) say women are more ambitious than men. (A 68% majority see no gender difference on this trait.)

Two additional leadership traits are clearly a gender tossup in the public’s mind. More than eight-in-ten adults (86%) say intelligence is equally descriptive of men and women. An additional 9% say women are more intelligent than men, and 4% say the opposite. Fully three-quarters of adults say men and women are equally innovative. Those who see a difference on this characteristic are evenly split over which gender has an advantage: 11% say innovation better describes women, and 12% say it’s more true of men.

Public Sees Few Gender Differences on “Essential Traits”

Traits that Matter Most Are Shared by Men and Women

For example, among those who say honesty is an essential quality for a leader to have, 68% say that men and women are equally honest (among all adults 67% say the same). And for those who say intelligence is an essential trait for a leader, 87% say this trait is found equally in men and women (compared with 86% among all adults). The same can be said of decisiveness. Among those who say this is an essential leadership trait, 61% say men and women display this trait equally (compared with 62% among all adults).

Gender and Political Leadership

Men and Women Equally Capable Political Leaders

Views on gender and political leadership are remarkably stable across major demographic groups. Men are slightly more likely than women to say that men make better political leaders (17% vs. 12%), and women are more likely than men to say women make better leaders (11% vs. 7%). But strong majorities of both groups say men and women make equally good political leaders.

There is broad agreement across generations as well, although Gen Xers are somewhat less likely than younger or older generations to say that women make better leaders than men. There are no major differences across racial or socio-economic groups on this question.

A Partisan Gap on Views of Men, Women and Political Leadership

When gender and partisanship are both taken into account, the differences become sharper. Among Republican men, 27% say that men make better political leaders than women. Only 1% of Republican men say that women make better leaders than men. Republican women also lean toward men, though less heavily so: 17% say that men make better political leaders than women, while 4% say women make better leaders than men.

The gender gap is smaller among Democrats. Equal shares of Democratic men and women say that women make better political leaders than men (16%). Among Democratic men, 11% say men make better political leaders than women. Some 8% of Democratic women say the same.

Executive vs. Legislative Leadership

In elected office, women tend to be more heavily represented in the legislative branches of government than in the executive branches, but the public doesn’t draw sharp distinctions in terms of where women can do the best job. Only 10% say women are better at legislative jobs like serving on the city council or in Congress, and 7% say women are better at executive jobs such as mayor or governor. The vast majority (82%) say there is no difference, suggesting that women can serve equally well in either type of position.

A similarly large majority of adults (83%) don’t see any difference in men’s capability to carry out executive vs. legislatives jobs in government. About one-in-ten adults (11%) say men are better at executive jobs, and 5% say men are better at legislative jobs. Men and women agree that executive and legislative jobs are not better suited for one gender than the other.

The Tools of the Trade

While most Americans think, in general terms, men and women make equally good political leaders, many do see gender differences in style and substance.

Are Female Political Leaders Better at Working Out Compromises?

Women also have an advantage over men on honesty and ethical behavior. A majority of all adults (62%) say men and women don’t differ in this regard. One-third (34%) say women in top political positions are more honest and ethical than men in top political positions. Just 3% say men are more honest and ethical.

Most adults (68%) say political leaders are equally good at working to improve the quality of life for Americans regardless of their gender. But many do see a gender difference: 26% say women in top political positions are better at this than their male counterparts, while 5% say men are better at this than women.

Similarly, women have an edge over men when it comes to standing up for what they believe in, despite political pressure. While most adults (63%) say men and women serving in high-level political offices are about equal in this regard, 25% say female political leaders are better at doing this, and 10% say men are better.

Opinion is more evenly divided on which gender is more persuasive. Overall, 60% of adults say there is no difference between male and female political leaders in their ability to be persuasive. Beyond that, only a slightly higher share say women are better at this (21%) than say men are better (17%).

Women See Clear Advantages to Female Political Leadership

Women Champion Female Political Leaders

Women are also significantly more likely than men to say that in politics female leaders have an advantage over male leaders in terms of standing up for what they believe in, despite political pressure. Three-in-ten women say female leaders are better at doing this; only 19% of men agree. There are significant gender gaps on the three additional items tested in the poll: being honest and ethical, working to improve the quality of life for Americans and being persuasive. In each case more women than men say that female political leaders do a better job.

Interestingly, while men are somewhat more likely than women to say that male political leaders excel in several of these areas, in most cases, even men give female leaders at least a slight edge.

There is a generational divide in views of men, women and political leadership. Baby Boomers and members of the Silent generation tend to have more a positive view of female leaders than do their younger counterparts. And because the gender gap on these issues is much wider among older adults, the generational differences are driven almost entirely by women.

About half of women from the Baby Boom (47%) and Silent generations (50%) say that women in high political office are better than men at working out compromises. By comparison, 33% of Millennial women and 37% of Gen X women say the same. Similarly, 39% of Boomer women and 35% of Silent women say that female leaders are better than their male counterparts at working to improve the quality of life for Americans. Younger generations of women are less likely to hold this view (22% of Millennial women and 24% of Gen X women).

Democrats More Enthusiastic about Female Political Leaders

Parties Differ over Leadership Qualities of Male, Female Politicians

For example, while 40% of Democrats say female political leaders are better than male leaders at working out compromises, only 30% of Republicans agree. Relatively few Republicans (10%) say men are better at working out compromises, but a majority (58%) say there isn’t any difference between men and women in this regard.

When it comes to standing up for what they believe in, despite political pressure, three-in-ten Democrats say female political leaders are better at this than male leaders. Only 19% of Republicans agree that women are better than men in this area. Some 67% of Republicans, compared with 59% of Democrats, say men and women are equally able in this regard.

Democratic women are among the most enthusiastic proponents of female political leaders. In most cases, they are more likely than both Democratic men and Republican women to say that female political leaders do a better job than men. This is true for working out compromises, working to improve the quality of life for Americans, standing up for what they believe in and being persuasive.

Political Leadership and Policy Expertise

Just as the public views men and women as equally capable on various leadership traits and characteristics, majorities see little difference between male and female political leaders in some major policy realms.

Many Say Women Are Stronger on Social Issues,  Men Stronger on National Security

Environmental policy is another area where the public sees little difference between male and female political leaders: 71% say when it comes to handling environmental issues, men and women perform about equally well. Roughly one-in-five (18%) say women in high political offices are better at handling this issue; half as many say men do a better job in this area.

Bigger differences emerge on two additional policy areas—social issues and national security. Narrow majorities say men and women in high political office are equally capable in these areas: 57% for social issues and 56% for national security. But nearly four-in-ten have a clear gender preference in each of these issue areas. Some 38% say women in high political office do a better job than men dealing with social issues such as education and health care. Only 3% say men do a better job in this area.

Democrats’ Confidence in Women Waivers on National Security

The gender gaps in perceptions about male and female leaders are not as pronounced on these policy issues as they are for traits and attributes. Women are more likely than men to say that female political leaders are better at dealing with social issues such as education and health care, and they are somewhat more likely to say that female leaders are better at handling economic conditions. Very few women (5%) say that female leaders do a better job than their male counterparts in dealing with national security. A majority of women (59%) say that there isn’t any difference between male and female leaders in this policy area (54% of men say the same).

Gender and the C-Suite

Men and Women Equally Qualified to Lead in the Business World

Looking at some of the specific attributes required to be successful in business, again, the public sees relatively few differences between men and women. Strong majorities say there is no difference between men and women when it comes to being an effective spokesperson for their company (77% see no difference) and negotiating profitable deals (73%). And solid majorities see no difference between men and women on providing guidance or mentorship to young employees (66%), providing fair pay and good benefits (64%), being honest and ethical (64%) and being willing to take risks (58%).

Among those who do draw distinctions between men and women on these leadership attributes, some clear gender patterns emerge. About three-in-ten adults (31%) say women in top executive positions are more honest and ethical than men; only 3% say men are better in this regard. Similarly, 30% say women do a better job at providing fair pay and good benefits, while 5% say the same about men. Women are also perceived to have an advantage in providing guidance or mentorship to young employees: 25% say women are better at this, while 7% say men are better.

The largest gap in favor of men is on the willingness to take risks. Some 34% of the public says men in top executive positions are better at this than women; only 5% say women are better than men. Men are also seen as having an edge in negotiating profitable deals. About one-in-five adults (18%) say men in top business positions are better at this than women, while 7% say women are better at this.

Neither men nor women are seen as having a clear advantage in serving as spokespeople for their companies: 9% say men are better at this, 12% say women are better and 77% see no difference between the two.

What Men and Women Bring to Business Leadership

Men are more likely than women to say that male leaders in business are more willing to take risks (37% of men say this, compared with 31% of women). In addition, men are more likely than women to say there is no gender difference when it comes to being honest and ethical and providing fair pay and good benefits.

A Generation Gap Among Women in Views of Female Business Leadership

Opinions on gender and business leadership also differ across partisan lines. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that women do a better job on many of the characteristics tested in the poll, although in most cases majorities from each party say there is no difference between men and women on these dimensions.

Some of the largest partisan gaps can be seen on which gender does a better job of being honest and ethical (37% of Democrats say women, 29% of Republicans say the same), providing fair pay and good benefits (37% of Democrats say women, 24% of Republicans say the same), and being willing to take risks (44% of Republicans say men, 30% of Democrats say the same).

Gender Stereotypes and Business Industries

Does a Leader’s Gender Matter More in Some Industries than Others?

The share saying a man would do a better job running a computer software company is higher than the share saying a woman would do a better job at this. Some 47% don’t see a difference between men and women in their ability to run a software company or say it depends.

Women have an edge over men in hospital management and in retail. Among all adults, 37% say a woman would do a better job of running a major hospital, while 14% say a man would do a better job at this. A plurality (44%) say gender doesn’t make any difference in running a hospital.

The responses are nearly identical for a major retail chain: 37% say a woman would do a better job running this type of company, 15% say a man would do a better job and 43% say there is no difference or it depends.

Women also have a slight advantage when it comes to running a large bank or financial institution. About three-in-ten adults (29%) say a woman would do a better job running this type of company, and 19% say a man would do a better job. Roughly half (47%) say it would not make any difference.

Men and women tend to agree in their assessments of who could do a better job running companies in each of these industries. In the case of a professional sports team, women are somewhat more likely than men to say that a female leader could do better job (11% vs. 5% of men). However, even among women, half (51%) say a man would do a better job of running a pro sports team.

Do Female Leaders Make a Difference?

Women and Democrats See Wide Benefits from More Female Leaders

Women are much more likely than men to see potential benefits in having more female leaders. Fully 38% of women say having more women in top leadership positions would do a lot to improve the lives of all women; only half as many men (19%) agree.

Similarly, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say that more female leaders would be beneficial to all women. About four-in-ten Democrats (39%) say this would do a lot to improve the quality of life for all women. Only 17% of Republicans say the same. Independents fall squarely in the middle: 28% say having more female leaders would do a lot to improve the lives of all women.

  • This series of questions was included in a separate telephone survey. Respondents were not offered the option of choosing “no difference” as they were in the main survey, which was conducted online. They were, however, allowed to volunteer responses such as “no difference,” “both equally good” or “depends.” The mode of interview (telephone vs. online) may have had an impact on the share choosing a neutral category in this type of question. ↩

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More From Forbes

Female leadership: the new approach in the workplace.

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This past summer, published its 50 Over 50 list (see link)

Titled "The New Golden Age," the list is a confident nod to the future of organizational leadership with experienced women at the helm. Members of the elite list are said to be "founding and running companies at scale ($20 million or more in revenue for for-profit companies), leading movements and changing the world ... working across all sectors of the American economy—venture capital, education, politics, major league sports and more."

Accolades such as this not only tap a current cultural zeitgeist, they progress the idea of how women lead: not by stepping onto the well-trodden path of male leadership but by rebuilding the road altogether. In my experience advising women CEOs (or those aspiring to the C-suite), one commonality I see is a holistic approach to leadership and to the organization. This includes balancing financial and performance results with goals of increasing diversity on leadership teams, an inclusive culture, and driving positive change. And more and more studies show that this mix can be a potent one.

A 2021 analysis by S&P Global with researchers from the University of Paris found that female CEOs illustrated greater empathy, adaptability and diversity more frequently than their male peers, per a survey of nearly 8,500 companies across 61 countries. Words like empathy, intuition, compromise, and compassion may have been viewed as soft in previous decades but now are viewed as increasingly necessary in the workplace—perhaps even a strategic imperative. Another recent study, this one from Catalyst, shows that empathetic leaders have more innovative and productive teams, and are likely to retain talent. The data shows that:

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  • Empathy is a force for productivity, life-work integration, and positive work experiences.
  • Empathy boosts productivity.
  • Employees with empathic managers and leaders are more innovative and engaged in their work than are employees with less empathic managers and leaders.
  • Women of color experience less burnout when they have more empathic senior leaders.
  • Senior leader empathy is linked to reduced intent to leave.

Women leaders tend to use an empathetic style to influence others and to build trust, which produces productive and effective teams. In fact, a 2019 S&P Global Markets Intelligence Study found that firms with female CEOs and CFOs produced superior stock price performance. The study highlighted positive stock price, profitability, board diversity, and results by organizations run by female C-level leaders. One CEO who I've worked with says that she aims to balance empathy with hard data and results. This push to prove that results do go hand-in-hand with a well-balanced organization is something many female leaders have in common. They want to change the culture of their organizations and provide inspiration for other aspiring female leaders while ensuring that results and long-term thinking do not suffer; in fact, they should increase. But it's important to note that evolution is not exclusive to women. More of the male CEOs I work with understand that empathy and rigor can be impactful as a leader. 

Extracting what these and other studies mean for leadership is a fascinating exercise. But clearly a female leadership style — meaning, the methods and approach — of organizing and running a business favors what the world needs today. 

Cassandra Frangos

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Women, Power & Leadership

female leadership styles essay

Many more women provide visible leadership today than ever before. Opening up higher education for women and winning the battle for suffrage brought new opportunities, along with widespread availability of labor-saving devices and the discovery and legalization of reliable, safe methods of birth control. Despite these developments, women ambitious for leadership still face formidable obstacles: primary if not sole responsibility for childcare and homemaking; the lack of family-friendly policies in most workplaces; gender stereotypes perpetuated in popular culture; and in some parts of the world, laws and practices that deny women education or opportunities outside the home. Some observers believe that only a few women want to hold significant, demanding leadership posts; but there is ample evidence on the other side of this debate, some of it documented in this volume. Historic tensions between feminism and power remain to be resolved by creative theorizing and shrewd, strategic activism. We cannot know whether women are “naturally” interested in top leadership posts until they can attain such positions without making personal and family sacrifices radically disproportionate to those faced by men.

Nannerl O. Keohane , a Fellow of the American Academy since 1991, is a political philosopher and university administrator who served as President of Wellesley College and Duke University. She is currently affiliated with the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and is a Visiting Scholar at the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University. Her books include Philosophy and the State in France: The Renaissance to the Enlightenment (1980), Higher Ground: Ethics and Leadership in the Modern University (2006), and Thinking about Leadership (2010). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy.

One of the most dramatic changes in recent decades has been the increasing prominence of women in positions of leadership. Many more women are providing leadership in government, business, higher education, nonprofit ventures, and other areas of life, in many more countries of the world, than would ever have been true in the past. This essay addresses four aspects of this development.

I will note the kinds of leadership women have routinely provided, and list factors that help explain why this pattern has changed dramatically in the past half century. I will mention some of the obstacles that still block the path for women in leadership. Then I will ask how ambitious women generally are for leadership, and discuss the fraught relationship between feminism and power, before concluding with a brief look at the future that might lie ahead.

As we approach this subject, we need to understand what we mean by “leadership.” I use the following definition: “Leaders define or clarify goals for a group of individuals and bring together the energies of members of that group to pursue those goals.” 1  This conception is deliberately broad, designed to capture various types of leadership, in various groups, not just the work of leaders who hold the most visible offices in a large society.

A leader can define or clarify goals by issuing a memo or an executive order, an edict or a fatwa or a tweet, by passing a law, barking a command, or presenting an interesting idea in a meeting of colleagues. Leaders can mobilize people’s energies in ways that range from subtle, quiet persuasion to the coercive threat or the use of deadly force. Sometimes a charismatic leader such as Martin Luther King Jr. can define goals and mobilize energies through rhetoric and the power of example.

It is also helpful to distinguish leadership from two closely related concepts: power and authority.

All leaders have some measure of power, in the sense of influencing or determining priorities for other individuals. But leadership cannot be a synonym for holding power. Power is often defined in the straightforward way suggested by political scientist Robert Dahl: “ A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do.” 2 A bully or an assailant with a gun wields power in this sense, but it would not be appropriate to call such a person a “leader.”

Leadership often involves exercising authority with the formal legitimacy of a position in a governmental structure or high office in a large organization. Holding authority in these ways provides clear opportunities for leadership. Yet many men and women we would want to call leaders are not in positions of authority, and not everyone in a formal office provides leadership. As John Gardner, author of several valuable books on leadership, noted, “We have all occasionally encountered top persons who couldn’t lead a squad of seven-year-olds to the ice cream counter.” 3

We can think of leadership as a spectrum, in terms of both visibility and the power the leader wields. On one end of the spectrum, we have the most visible: authoritative leaders like the president of the United States or the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or a dictator such as Hitler or Qaddafi. At the opposite end of the spectrum is casual, low-key leadership found in countless situations every day around the world, leadership that can make a significant difference to the individuals whose lives are touched by it.

Over the centuries, the first kind–the out-in-front, authoritative leadership–has generally been exhibited by men. Some men in positions of great authority, including Nelson Mandela, have chosen a strategy of “leading from behind”; more often, however, top leaders have been quite visible in their exercise of power. Women (as well as some men) have provided casual, low-key leadership behind the scenes. But this pattern has been changing, as more women have taken up opportunities for visible, authoritative leadership.

Across all the centuries of which we have any record, women have been largely absent from positions of formal authority. Such posts, with a few exceptions, were routinely held by men. Women have therefore lacked opportunities to exercise leadership in the most visible public settings. And as both cause and consequence of this fact, leadership has been closely associated with masculinity. In some parts of the world this assumption is still dominant: even in what we think of as the most advanced countries, there are people who think that men are “natural leaders,” and women are meant to follow them.

Yet despite this stubborn linkage between leadership and maleness, some women in almost every society have proved themselves capable of providing strong, visible leadership. Women exercised formal public authority when dynasty or marriage-lines trumped gender, so that Elizabeth I of England or Catherine the Great of Russia could rule as monarch. There are cultures in which wise women are regularly consulted, either as individuals or as members of the council of the tribe. All-female institutions are especially auspicious for women as leaders, including convents, girls’ schools, and women’s colleges, where women have often held authoritative posts.

Women have led in situations where men are temporarily absent: in wartime when the men are away fighting, or in a community like Nantucket in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, where most of the men were whaling in distant seas for years at a time. Women have provided visible leadership in movements for social betterment, including the prohibition and settlement house campaigns of the late nineteenth century and the battle for women’s suffrage. “First ladies” have leveraged their access to power to promote important causes. The impressive accomplishments of Jane Addams and Eleanor Roosevelt stand as prime examples of female leadership. Women have been leaders in family businesses in many different settings. And countless women across history have provided leadership in education, religious activities, care for the sick and wounded, cultural affairs, and charity for the poor.

So that’s a rough, impressionistic survey of the leadership women have exercised in the past: a very few “out front,” as queens or abbesses or heads of school, with many providing more informal leadership in smaller communities or behind the scenes.

This picture has changed dramatically in the past half-century. Many more women today hold authoritative posts, as prime ministers, heads of universities, CEOs of corporations, presidents of nonprofit organizations, and bishops in Protestant denominations. Why has this happened in the past few decades, rather than sooner, or later, or never?

As we ponder this question, we must also note that the changes have proceeded unevenly. It is still unusual for a woman to be CEO of a major public corporation or the president of a country with direct elections for the head of government, as distinct from parliamentary systems. Women’s leadership in religious organizations depends on the doctrines of the religion or sect and the influences of the surrounding society on how these doctrines are interpreted. We will look at some of the barriers blocking change in these and other areas.

And finally, are women as ambitious for leadership as men, or are there systematic differences between the two sexes in the appetite for gaining and using power? Can tensions between the core concepts of feminism and the wielding of power help us understand these issues?

In the past half-century, fifty-six women have served as president or prime minister of their countries. 4 In the United States, women hold office as senators and congresswomen, governors and mayors, cabinet officers and university presidents, heads of foundations and social service agencies, rabbis, generals, and principal investigators. Women have been the CEOs of GM, IBM, Yahoo, and Pepsi-Cola. There are women judges sitting at all levels of the court system, and women leaders in several prominent international organizations.

In the United States, the unprecedented numbers of women candidates in the 2018 midterm elections and the 2019 Democratic presidential primaries are striking examples of women tackling the long-standing identification of leadership with masculinity. One hundred and seventeen women won office in 2018, including ninety-six members of the House of Representatives, twelve senators, and nine governors. Each of these was a record number, compared with any year in the past. 5 Among Democrats, female candidates were more likely to win than their male counterparts. 6 Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the presidency was a significant step in splintering, if not yet shattering, one of the hardest “glass ceilings” in the world. And Angela Merkel’s deft leadership for Germany and the European Union has provided a model for women in politics worldwide.

We can multiply instances from many different fields, from many different contexts: women today are much more likely to provide visible leadership in major institutions than they have been at any time in history.

Yet why have these changes occurred precisely at this time? I’ll suggest half a dozen factors that have made it possible for women to take these significant strides in leadership.

First is the establishment of institutions of higher education for women to-ward the end of the nineteenth century. Both men and women worked to open male institutions to women and to build schools and colleges specifically for women students. Careers and activities that had been beyond the reach of all women now for the first time became a plausible ambition. Higher education provided a new platform for leadership by women in many fields.

Virginia Woolf’s powerful essay A Room of One’s Own (1929) makes clear how crucial it was for women to be educated in a university setting. College degrees allowed women to enter professions previously barred to them and, as a result, become financially independent of their fathers and husbands and gain a measure of control over their own lives. Woolf’s less well-known but equally powerful treatise from 1939, Three Guineas, considers the impact of this development on social institutions and practices, including the relations between women and men.

The second crucial development, beginning in the late nineteenth century, was the invention of labor-saving devices such as washing machines and dryers, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, followed in the second half of the twentieth century by computers and, later still, electronic assistants capable of ordering goods online to be delivered to your door. The women (or men) in charge of running a household today have far more mechanical and electronic support than ever before.

Ironically, for middle-class Americans today, much of the time freed up by these labor-saving devices has been redirected into “super-parenting”: parents are expected to spend much more time educating, protecting, and developing the skills of their children. Yet one might hope that these patterns could be more malleable than the punishing work required of our great-grandmothers to maintain a household.

Third is the success of the long struggle for women’s suffrage in many countries early in the twentieth century. Even more than the efforts that opened colleges and universities for women, the suffrage movements were deliberate, well-organized campaigns in which women leaders used their sources of influence strategically to obtain their goals. Enfranchised women could vote for candidates who advocated policies with particular resonance for them, including family- and child-oriented regulations and laws that tackled discriminatory practices in the labor market. Many female citizens voted as their fathers and husbands did; but the possibility of using the ballot box to pursue their priority interests was for the first time available to them. Women could also stand for election and be appointed to government offices. It is important to note, however, that in the United States, the success of the movement was tarnished by the denial of the vote to many Black persons in the South until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 7

Fourth factor: the easy availability of reliable methods of birth control. Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own gives a vivid portrayal of women in earlier centuries who were hungry for knowledge or professional activity but bore and tended multiple children, making it impossible to find either the time or the opportunity to be educated. In the early twentieth century, there was for the first time widespread public discussion of the methods and moral dimensions of birth control. The opportunity to engage in family planning by controlling the number and timing of births gave women more freedom to engage in other tasks without worrying about unwanted pregnancies. By 1960, when “the pill” became the birth control device of choice for millions of women, the battle for legal contraception had largely been won in most of the world.

Next is women’s liberation, the “second wave” of feminism from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. This multifaceted movement encouraged countless women to reenvision their options and led to important changes in attitudes, behavior, and legal systems. The ideas of the movement were originally developed by women in Western Europe and the United States, but the implications were felt worldwide, and women in many other countries provided examples of feminist ideas and activities.

Among the most important by-products of the feminist movement in the United States was Title IX, passed as part of the Education Amendments Act in 1972. New opportunities for women in athletics and in combatting job discrimination followed the passage of this bill. There is ample evidence that participating in sports strengthens a girl’s self-confidence as well as her physical capacity. 8 And although the Equal Rights Amendment has not passed, the broadened application of the Fourteenth Amendment by federal courts made a significant difference in opening up equal opportunities for women.

A fifth factor contributing to greater scope for women’s activities is the change in economic patterns–contemporary capitalism–in which many families feel that they need two incomes to maintain themselves or achieve the lifestyle they covet. This puts more women in the workforce and thus on a potential ladder to leadership, despite remaining biases against women in jobs as varied as construction, teaching economics in a university, representing clients in major trials, and fighting forest fires.

Finally, the change in social expectations that is the cumulative result of all these developments, so that for the first time in history, in many parts of the world, it seems “natural” that a woman might be ambitious for a major leadership post and that with the right combination of talent, experience, and luck, she might actually get it. The more often it happens, the more likely it is that others will be inspired to follow that example, whereas in the past, it would never have occurred to a young girl that she might someday be CEO of a company, head of a major NGO, member of Congress, dean of a cathedral, or president of a university.

If you simply project forward the trajectory we have seen since the 1960s, you might assume that the future will be one in which all top leadership posts finally become gender-neutral, as often held by women as by men. The last bastions will fall, and it will be just as likely that the CEO of a company or the president of the country will be a woman as a man; the same will be true of other forms of leadership.

Sometimes we act as though this is the obvious path ahead, and the only question is how long it will take. On this point, the evidence is discouraging. The Gender Parity Project of the World Economic Forum predicted in 2015 that “if you were born today, you would be 118 years old when the economic gender gap is predicted to close in 2133.” 9  The report also notes that although gender parity around the world has dramatically improved in the areas of health and education, “only about 60% of the economic participation gap and only 21% of the political empowerment gap have been closed.”

Yet however glacial the rate of change, we may think: “we’ll get there eventually, because that’s where things are moving.” You might call this path convergence toward parity between men and women as leaders. This is the scenario that appears to underlie much of our current thinking, even if we have not articulated it as such.

This scenario, however, ignores some formidable barriers that women ambitious for formal leadership still face. Several familiar images or metaphors have been coined to make this point: “glass ceiling” or “leaky pipeline.” In Through the Labyrinth , sociologists Alice Eagly and Linda Carli use the ancient female image of the “labyrinth” to describe the multiple obstacles women face on the path to top leadership. It’s surely not a straight path toward eventual convergence. 10

The first and most fundamental obstacle to achieving top leadership in any field is that women in almost all societies still have primary (if not sole) responsibility for childcare and homemaking. Few organizations (or nation-states) have workplace policies that support family-friendly lifestyles, including high-quality, reliable, affordable childcare; flexible work schedules while children are young; and support for anyone caring for a sick child or aging parent. This makes things very hard for working parents, and especially for working mothers.

The unyielding expectation that one must show one’s seriousness about a job by being available to work nine- or ten-hour days, being on-call at any time of the week, and ready to move the family to wherever one’s services are needed is a tremendous obstacle to the advancement of women. Although hours worked are correlated with productivity in some jobs and professions, the situation is far more complicated than such a simple metric would indicate. Nonetheless, this measure is often used for promotion and job opportunities, explicitly or in a more subtle fashion. This expectation cuts heavily against a working mother, or a father who might want to spend significant time with his young children.

One of the most stubborn obstacles in the labyrinth is the lack of “on-ramps”: that is, pathways for women (or men) who have “stopped out” to manage a household and raise their children to rejoin their professions at a level commensurate with their talent and past experience. 11 Choices made when one’s children are born are likely to define the available options for a mother for the rest of her life, in terms of professional opportunities and salary level. We need more flexible pathways through the labyrinth so that women (or men) can–if they wish–spend more time with their kids in their earliest years and still get back on the fast track and catch up.

We need to work toward a world in which marriage with children more often involves parenting and homemaking by both partners, so that all the burden does not fall on the mother. We urgently need more easily available high-quality childcare outside the home so that working parents can be assured that their kids are well cared for while they both work full time. Reaching this goal will require more deliberate action on the part of governments, businesses, and policy-makers to create family-friendly workplaces. Such policies are in place in several European countries but have not so far been implemented in the United States. 12

Other labyrinthine obstacles include gender stereotypes that keep getting in the way of women being judged simply on their own accomplishment. Women are supposed to be nurturing, but if you are kind and sensitive, somebody will say you are not tough enough to make hard decisions; if you show that you are up to such challenges, you may be described as “shrill” or “bitchy.” This “catch-22” clearly plagued Hillary Rodham Clinton in her first campaign for the presidency and took an even more virulent form in her second campaign, when her opponent in the general election and his supporters regularly shouted profoundly misogynistic comments at her.

Women also have fewer opportunities to be mentored. Many (not all) senior women are happy to mentor other women; but if there aren’t any senior women around, and the men aren’t sympathetic, you don’t get this support. Some senior male professors or corporate leaders do try specifically to advance the careers of young women, but many male bosses find it easier to mentor young men, seeing them as younger versions of themselves; they take them out for a beer or a round of golf, and find it hard to imagine doing this for young women.

The #MeToo movement has brought valuable support to many women unwilling to speak out about sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. This is surely a significant step in removing obstacles to women’s advancement. However, this very visible effort has also made some male bosses nervous about reaching out to female subordinates in ways that might be misinterpreted. Men who are already deeply committed to advancing the cause of women do not usually react this way, but those who are less committed may use the #MeToo movement as an excuse not to support women employees, or more often, be genuinely uncertain about which boundaries are inappropriate to cross.

Another insidious obstacle for women on the path to top leadership is popular culture, a formidable force in shaping expectations for young people. Contemporary media rarely suggest a high-powered career as an appropriate ambition for a person of the female sex. The ambitions of girls and women are discouraged when they are taught to be deferential to males and not to compete with them for resources, including power and recognition. Women internalize these expectations, which leads us to question our own abilities. Women are much less likely to put themselves forward for a promotion, a fellowship, or a demanding assignment than men even when they are objectively more qualified in terms of their credentials. 13

And finally, in terms of obstacles to women’s out-front leadership, I have so far been describing the situation in Western democracies. As we know, women who might want to be involved in political activity or provide leadership in any institution face even more formidable obstacles in many parts of the world today. Think of Afghanistan, where the Taliban have denied women education or any opportunities outside the home. For young women in such settings, achieving professional status and leadership is a very distant dream.

For all of these reasons, therefore–expectations of primary responsibility for domestic duties, absence of “on-ramps” for returning to the workforce, gender stereotypes, absence of mentors, the power of popular culture, if not systematic exclusion from political activity–women ambitious for out-front leadership must deal with significant barriers that do not confront their male peers.

Addressing the topic of women’s leadership in terms of the obstacles we face makes sense, however, only if significant numbers of women are ambitious for top leadership. In an essay entitled “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby–and You’ve Got Miles to Go,” leadership scholar Barbara Kellerman asks us to consider the possibility that most women really do not want such jobs. As she put it, “Work at the top of the greasy pole takes time, saps energy, and is usually all-consuming.” So “maybe the trade-offs high positions entail are ones that many women do not want to make.” Maybe, in other words, there are fewer women senators or CEOs because women “do not want what men have.” 14

If Kellerman is right, as women see what such positions entail, fewer will decide that high-profile leadership is where our ambitions lie, and the numbers of women in such posts will recede from the high-water mark of the late twentieth century toward something more like the world before 1950. Women have proved that we can do it, in terms of high-powered, visible leadership posts. We have seen the promised land, and many women will decide they are happier where most women traditionally have been.

We found something of this kind in a Princeton study on the fortieth anniversary of the university’s decision to include women as undergraduates. President Shirley Tilghman charged a Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership, which issued its report in March 2011, with determining “whether women undergraduates are realizing their academic potential and seeking opportunities for leadership at the same rate and in the same manner as their male colleagues.” 15 In a nutshell, the answer was no: women were not seeking leadership opportunities at the same rate or in the same manner.

Many recent Princeton alumnae and current female students the committee surveyed or interviewed in 2010 were not interested in holding very visible leadership positions like student government president or editor of the Princetonian ; they were more comfortable leading behind the scenes, as vice president or treasurer. There had not been a female president of the student government or of the first-year class at Princeton in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Other young women told us that they were not interested in the traditional student government organizations and instead wanted to lead in an organization that would focus on something they cared about, working for a cause: the environment, education reform, tutoring at Princeton, or a dance club or an a cappella group.

When we asked young women about this, they told us that they preferred to put their efforts where they could have an impact, in places where they could actually get the work of the organization done, rather than advancing their own resumés or having a big title. In this, they gave different answers than many of their male peers. Their attitudes also differed markedly from those of the alumnae who first made Princeton coeducational forty years before. Those women in the 1970s or 1980s were feisty pioneers determined to prove that they belonged at Princeton against considerable skepticism and opposition. They showed very different aspirations than the female students of the first decade of the twentieth century and occupied all the major leadership posts on campus on a regular basis.

Thus, our committee discovered (to quote our first general finding): “There are differences–subtle but real–between the ways most Princeton female undergraduates and most male undergraduates approach their college years, and in the ways they navigate Princeton when they arrive.” We found statistically significant differences between the ambitions and comfort-levels of undergraduate men and women at Princeton in 2010, in terms of the types of leadership that appealed to them and the ways they thought about power.

If you project forward our Princeton findings, and if Barbara Kellerman and others who share her assumptions are correct, there is no reason to believe that women and men will converge in terms of types of leadership. You might instead predict that these differential ambitions will mean that women will always choose and occupy less prominent leadership posts than men, even as they make a significant difference behind the scenes.

However, this conclusion is at odds with the way things are changing today, at Princeton and elsewhere. In addition to hearing from women who preferred low-key posts, our committee learned that women who did consider running for an office like president of college government often got the message from their peers (mostly their male peers) that such posts are more appropriately sought by men. As the discussion of women’s leadership intensifies on campus, more women stand for offices they might not have considered relevant before. Quite a few women have held top positions on campus in the past decade.

The Princeton women tell us that mentoring is very important and being encouraged to compete for a post makes a big difference. When someone–an older student, a friend or colleague, a faculty or staff member–says to a young woman: “You really ought to run for this office, you’d be really good at this,” she is much more likely to decide to be a candidate. There is a good deal of evidence that this is true far beyond the Princeton campus, including the experiences of women who decide to run for political office or state their interest in a top corporate post. 16

Therefore, to those who assert that there is a “natural” difference in motivation that explains the disparities between men and women in leadership, I would respond that we cannot know whether this is true until more women are encouraged to take on positions of leadership. We cannot determine, also, whether women are “naturally” interested in top leadership posts until women everywhere can attain such positions without making personal and family sacrifices radically disproportionate to those faced by men.

In asking what drove the dramatic change in women’s opportunities for leadership over the past half-century, I mentioned as one factor the strength of second-wave feminism. From the point of view of women and leadership, it is ironic that this movement was firmly and explicitly opposed to having any individual speak for and make decisions for other members. The cherished practice was “consciousness-raising,” with a focus on group-enabled insights. The search for consensus and common views was a significant feature of any activity projected by feminist groups in this period.

Second-wave feminism led to some significant advances for women, but the rejection of any out-front leadership meant that the gains were more limited than some members of the movement had envisioned. As was the case with Occupy Wall Street in the twenty-first century, the rejection of visible public leadership constrained the development and implementation of policy, despite the passion and commitment displayed by thousands of participants. The antipathy of second-wave feminists to power, authority, and leadership also means that it is hard to envision a feminist conception of leadership without coming to terms with this legacy.

This tension between “feminism” and “power” long predates the second wave. As women from Mary Wollstonecraft onward have attempted to understand disparities between the situation of women and men, the power held by men–in the state, the economy, and the household–has been a central part of the explanation. Feminists have often identified power with patriarchy, and therefore seen power as antipathetic to their interests as women striving to flourish as independent, creative human beings, rather than as a possible tool for change.

As a result of this age-old linkage of power with patriarchy, one further step in the decades-long progression of women from subordinate positions to positions of authority and leadership is a reconstruction of what it means to provide leadership and hold power. These activities must be detached from their fundamental connection to patriarchy, to make them more compatible with womanhood. There is evidence that this is happening today, as more and more women see power as relevant for accomplishing their goals and are increasingly willing to be seen wielding it with determination and even relish.

Many women today, in multiple contexts and in different parts of the world, are becoming more comfortable with exercising authority and holding power, and are openly ambitious to do so. These leaders see no need to deny or worry about their femininity, but instead concentrate on gaining power and getting things done. For these women, to a large extent, their sex/gender is not a relevant variable.

However, the other side of the equation–men and other women becoming comfortable with women in power and seeing their sex/gender as irrelevant–is lagging behind. Women are ready to take on significant public leadership positions in ways that have never been true before. But what about their potential followers? Large numbers of citizens in many countries and employees in many organizations–men and women–may still be reluctant to accept women as leaders who hold significant power over their lives.

This fluid situation calls both for creative feminist theorizing and for consolidating steps that are already being taken in practice. One of the most effective ways to provide the groundwork for this next stage of development is for more and more women to step forward for leadership posts. As with other profound social changes, including a broader acceptance of homosexuality and support for gay marriage, observing numerous instances of the phenomenon that initially appears “unnatural” can lead, over a remarkably short period of time, to changes in values and beliefs.

People who discover that valued friends, coworkers, or family members are gay are often likely to change their views on homosexuality. The same, one might hypothesize, will be true with women in power, as powerful women become a “normal” part of governments and corporations. The more women we see in positions of power and authority, the more “natural” it will seem for women to hold such posts.

In the final section of the Princeton report, we spoke of a world in which both women and men take on all kinds of leadership posts, out front and behind the scenes, high profile and supportive. This is neither convergence toward parity nor differential ambitions: it is a change in patterns of leadership and in the understanding of what posts are worth striving for, for both women and men.

Some of the Princeton students who argued for the importance of working for a cause saw themselves as carving out a new model of leadership. They rejected the unspoken assumption behind our study that the (only) form of leadership that really counts is being head of student government or president of your class. In doing this, they were reflecting some of the values of second-wave feminism, even when they were not aware of this influence. Believing that a visible leadership post, with a big title and a corner office, is the only type of leadership worth aspiring to is the kind of conception that second-wave feminism was determined to undermine.

Nonetheless, it remains true–and important–that the out-front, high-profile offices in the major organizations and institutions of a society come with exceptional opportunities to influence the course of events and the directions taken by large communities. Even as we value work done behind the scenes and in support of a worthy cause, we should not forget that the leaders who have the most power and the greatest degree of authority in any society are the ones who can make the most substantial difference in the world. Such posts should no longer be disproportionately held by men.

In the conclusion of her feminist classic The Second Sex , published in 1949, Simone de Beauvoir reminds us that it is very hard to anticipate clearly things we have not yet seen, and that in trying to do this, we often impoverish the world ahead. As she puts it, “Let us not forget that our lack of imagination always depopulates the future.” 17 In her chapter on “The Independent Woman,” she writes:

The free woman is just being born. . . . Her “worlds of ideas” are not necessarily different from men’s, because she will free herself by assimilating them; to know how singular she will remain and how important these singularities will be, one would have to make some foolhardy predictions. What is beyond doubt is that until now women’s possibilities have been stifled and lost to humanity, and in her and everyone’s interest it is high time she be left to take her own chances. 18

Because several generations of women and men have worked hard since 1949 to make the path easier for women, our possibilities as leaders are no longer “lost to humanity.” But these gifts are still stifled to some extent, and we are still operating with models of leadership designed primarily by and for men. It is surely high time we as women–with support from our partners, our families, our colleagues, from the political system, and from society as a whole–take our own chances.


For helpful comments, I am much indebted to Robert O. Keohane, Shirley Tilghman, Nancy Weiss Malkiel, and Dara Strolovich; to the participants in our authors’ conference in April 2019; and to students and colleagues who raised thoughtful questions after the Albright Lecture at Wellesley College in January 2014 and the Astor Lecture at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University, in March 2016.

  • 1 Nannerl O. Keohane, Thinking about Leadership (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010), 23.
  • 2 Robert Dahl, “The Concept of Power,” Behavioral Science 2 (3) (1957): 202.
  • 3 John W. Gardner, On Leadership (New York: Free Press, 1990), 2.
  • 4 A. W. Geiger and Lauren Kent, “ Number of Women Leaders around the World Has Grown, but They’re Still a Small Group ,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, March 8, 2017.
  • 5 Maya Salam, “ A Record 117 Women Won Office, Reshaping America’s Leadership ,” The New York Times , November 7, 2018.
  • 6 Center for American Women and Politics, “By the Numbers: Women Congressional Candidates in 2018,” September 12, 2018.
  • 7 On this topic, see Nannerl O. Keohane and Frances McCall Rosenbluth, “Introduction,” Dædalus 149 (1) (Winter 2020).
  • 8 Anne Bowker, “The Relationship between Sports Participation and Self-Esteem During Early Adolescence,” Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 38 (3) (2006): 214–229.
  • 9 World Economic Forum, “ Gender Parity .”
  • 10 Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli. Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007).
  • 11 Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Women’s Non-Linear Career Paths,” in Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change , ed. Barbara Kellerman and Deborah L. Rhode (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2007), 407–430.
  • 12 Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn, “Female Labor Supply: Why Is the United States Falling Behind?” The American Economic Review 103 (3) (2013): 251–256.
  • 13 Institute of Leadership and Management, “ Ambition and Gender at Work ” (London: Institute of Leadership and Management, 2010).
  • 14 Barbara Kellerman, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby–and You’ve Got Miles to Go,” in The Difference “Difference” Makes , ed. Deborah Rhode (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2002), 55.
  • 15 Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership, Report of the Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 2011).
  • 16 Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawless, “Uncovering the Origins of the Gender Gap in Political Ambitions,” American Political Science Review 108 (3) (2014): 499–519; and Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox, It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
  • 17 Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. and ed. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (New York: Random House, 2011), 765.
  • 18 Ibid., 751.

Female Leadership Style and Competence Essay (Critical Writing)


This article researches female leadership to show that women have some advantages in typical leadership style but are disadvantaged by evaluating their competence as leaders, which is largely prejudicial, especially in male-dominated organisations. Its also elucidates that there is a rise in female leadership and attributes that rise to qualities that women exhibit in leadership that are befitting to contemporary organisations (Jogulu & Wood 2006). The article examines the following hypotheses based on empirical research:

  • Women and men differ in leadership style.
  • Female leaders face prejudice and discrimination.
  • There is a significant shift in leadership requirements to suit Contemporary organisational needs.
  • Female leadership might be better or additionally effective in meeting organisational needs than male leadership.

All hypotheses were supported, and hence they point out that women have both advantages and disadvantages as far leadership is concerned. However, their disadvantages arise mainly in roles. Women have also changed significantly increasing their investment in human capital, changing their behaviours to include masculine attributes hence gained entry into male-dominated fields. There is also organisational change due to civil rights legislation and also re-definition of leadership roles which were previously defined as effective leadership based on stereotyped evaluations that associated some roles specifically to men.

Research question

The research question was – do women have some advantages in a typical leadership style? The question is then broken further into three hypotheses to tackle the topic in detail. The research question and the hypotheses have served well their purpose by first bringing into view traditional theories on leadership, then demystifying the stereotypes against women on leadership and lastly bringing out ignored female strengths.


The researcher contrasted his views with those of other research reviews by addressing questions as put out in the hypotheses. His was done through meta-analysis, a statistical method that joins together summarises, and evaluates previous quantitative research. The technique combines study findings to give measures of an average degree of an effect and test through statistics whether the differences in these results can be explained by the characteristics of the studies reviewed. One of the requirements of meta-analysis is that the studies under review should address the same hypothesis question, and this was true in the article. One advantage of using the methodology is that it combines many studies that otherwise would have overwhelmed as he tries to get accurate generalisations and summaries.

Participants were obtained from both organisational sites, and non-laboratory settings and they were either managers, students or other non-student groups. The researcher also depended on both published and unpublished data. Sample of data on different sexes and leadership styles from different researchers that were compared were as follows:

  • Dobin and Platz (1986)- found 17 studies which gave 8 studies.
  • Eagly and Johnson (1990)- found 161 documents which gave 162 studies.
  • Eagly, Karau and Makhinjani (1995)- found 87 documents which gave 96 studies.

From the discrepancies between the documents and studies obtained from each research, it is evident that the more the documents researched, the more accurate the findings are as demonstrated in the second sample. Therefore, though the method could be right, some samples with no extensive searches could alter the otherwise true state of the expected findings (Eagly & Carli, 2003).

The other disadvantage of the sample is that using participants outside organisation setups might be a disadvantage because they might be aware of the organisation’s true state of affairs. Their observations will mostly be based on hearsay. This negatively affects the findings because there was no distinction between them and those in organisational setups (Eagly & Carli, 2003).

Data collection

Data used in this research was obtained from secondary sources which were meta-analysis of researches carried out by different individuals. To meet the research’s objective, all data collected must have focused on answering the hypotheses questions. There was a four-step criterion to determine whether any meta-analysis work had the quality required to make it as a valid sample:

  • To check whether the search conducted by the meta-analyst was extensive enough to cover relevant topics
  • Whether at least two judges of interjudge status coded the findings
  • Determine whether analysis of the databases of studies was done thoroughly.
  • Establish whether the discussion of the side effects, weakness and strings of studies was appropriately done.

These criteria ensured that the quality of the meta-analysis samples that were used were of the required standard hence ensuring that the quality of the findings was also credible. Secondary data is easier to obtain and is also cost-effective. However, due to the lack of collection of their primary data one cannot establish the objectivity of the person who collected the primary data.

Evaluation of contribution to leadership theory or leadership practice

This study provides that women have some leadership qualities that are essential in meeting organisational needs, and it contributes particularly to the development of female leadership. The article points out to organisation management boards’ to change their criteria of hiring leaders where whereby leadership roles are defined in masculine terms. Also, it provides a wider pool of leaders to choose from when hiring and hence ensures selection on performance rather than stereotypes. It also acts as an impetus to women who seek leadership positions to position them strategically, even in male-dominated roles. They can do this by exhibiting agentic qualities while combining them with their supportive leadership qualities (Eagly & Carli, 2003).

The research also comes as a wake-up call to men in leadership and those aspiring that shortly management of organisations will no-longer require masculine characteristics of power accumulation; rather, it embraces transformational leadership of support to subordinates. This research also provides a window for the government to see the hurdles women face to reach top leadership positions. Hence, it will be able to develop policies that promote female leadership. As a result, the untapped women potential will be used to promote the development of that country.

This research also provides an avenue of cooperation between males and females. Because of the effectiveness of different sexes in different roles, they can supplement their strengths and weaknesses. This will ensure increased production instead of one viewing the other as inferior or competitor. The research also brings out the neutral view of leadership roles which defines leadership in terms of competence instead of traditional ideologies (Leavitt, 1989). This en s ures that those selected for given positions are qualified, and hence the tasks assigned will be effectively accomplished. Lastly, this research provides information to organisations on how they can bring out overshadowed leadership qualities. This is achievable by changing the organisation’s practices, cultures and roles that demean women.

Eagly, A, H and Carli, L, L (2003). The female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. The Leadership quarterly 14 pp: 807–834.

Heather Höpf and Sumohon Matilal, 2007. “The lady vanishes”: some thoughts on women and leadership. Journal of Organizational Change Management. 20 (2). pp. 198-208.

Jogulu, U, D and Wood, J, G (2006). The role of leadership theory in raising the profile of women in management. Equal Opportunities International 25 (4). pp: 236-250.

Leavitt, H, J (1989). Readings in managerial psychology Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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IvyPanda. (2024, February 17). Female Leadership Style and Competence.

"Female Leadership Style and Competence." IvyPanda , 17 Feb. 2024,

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IvyPanda . "Female Leadership Style and Competence." February 17, 2024.

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Home Essay Examples Management Leadership Styles

Male And Female Leadership Styles

  • Category Management
  • Subcategory Strategy
  • Topic Leadership Styles

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Leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do so whereas a leader is a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. In order for a family, organisation or country to flourish, capable leaders are essential. Although leaders in the past were predominantly male, nowadays, women too can be leaders. An example of this is Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Michele Buck, CEO of Hershey. However, with the increase of women in positions of leadership, it raises the question – what are the similarities and differences between male and female leadership styles? While there are similarities in female and male leadership styles, there are also differences in communication styles, preferred leadership structure, self-promotion and inclined leadership style.

First and foremost, the similarities in leadership styles between male and female leaders is charisma and confidence. To become a great leader, charisma is essential if one desires to lead a society, organisation, family or even a country. Charisma is defined as a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. It is one of the main traits of a good leader. Charismatic leaders are eloquent and are able to communicate to their followers on a deep, emotional level. They are able to convey a captivating vision which spurs their followers into action. If one lacks charisma, they cannot lead effectively. When one has charisma, they will be respected and approved by all. An example of a charismatic male leader is Bill Clinton who is the former President of the United States of America. He left office with an approval rating of 68 per cent, which matched those of Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era. An example of a charismatic female leader is Michelle Obama who served as the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She served as a role model for women, and worked as an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity and healthy eating. In a favourability poll conducted by Gallup in July 2010, she topped the list and ranked higher than Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. During October 2010, CNN placed her approval rating at 65%, which was 20 points above her husband, Barack Obama, who was the 44th President of the United States. In addition, Forbes named her the most powerful woman in the world.

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Besides, in leadership, confidence is a cornerstone. As a leader, one must have confidence for it is the foundation from which leadership grows. Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. A confident leader is unafraid to take the reins and make tough decisions. They are unafraid of making decisions and committing to said decisions. During times of turmoil, a confident leader remains calm and poised, unfazed by the problem that has arisen. Such leaders become a steady and reassuring presence to their followers because leaders with confidence are able to lead meetings with authority and give inspiring speeches. Not only do they put their followers at ease with their mere presence, they also meet the expectations of others through the surety of their words, actions and decisions. This is because their assertiveness has managed to convince others to have faith in them. An example of a leader who has confidence is Elon Musk. He is best known as the co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc. He truly believed that Tesla would be successful and has shown his conviction many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 (their value on the 4th of December 2009) each before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. His confidence paid off for Tesla is currently the most valuable American car company, worth $53.5 billion at market close today, which is about $3 billion more than General Motors.

Male leadership style can be viewed from communication style, preferred leadership structure, self-promotion and inclined leadership style. Communication is defined as the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings. Communication plays a significant role in leadership. Those who possess good communication skills fare better than others in the workplace. Male leaders instruct their followers in a more direct and assertive manner by making blunt statements. This bluntness is not to be assumed as arrogance or pride for it is merely their style of giving orders. Men in leadership tend to ask less questions because questions are asked only to gain information about a situation or problem. Should a problem prove to be too much, they normally withdraw due to stress. This is done because withdrawing gives them time to compose themselves and arrange their thoughts in a proper manner. They intend to speak to clear doubts so a well thought response allows them to be understood when they speak up to resolve the problem or misunderstanding. They also believe that communication should have a clear purpose. Therefore, they prefer speaking in a clear and concise manner regarding the topic at hand. Besides speaking to clear doubts, they also voice out to share important details and vital information regarding a project or problem.

Moreover, male leaders prefer a hierarchical structure of leadership whereby power belongs to the position rather than the individual. This structure of leadership allows for clear-cut roles and simpler delegation of authority. This structure plays into their strong liking of contest, dominance and pecking order as seen in the patriarchal order which has been used since generations ago. However, this structure has pitfalls because it tempts those who wield that position to abuse the power that comes along with it. Furthermore, men in positions of leadership are better at self-promoting. Self-promoting should not be seen as self-serving because it is an important skill in leadership. Since men are better at self-promoting, they take credit when credit is due. This is a form of responsibility practised by them since it benefits not only themselves, but also their subordinates because such a move allows followers to receive recognition for their hard work and co-operation. In addition, men are inclined to use transactional leadership style. This style of leadership favours results above all else. Male leaders consider themselves as dominant figures separate from their team, thus they engage less with their followers on a personal and emotional level. They also expect their orders to be obeyed without question, expecting their followers to complete the tasks assigned to them.

Female leadership style can be understood from communication style, preferred leadership structure, self-promotion and inclined leadership style. In female leadership, communication style is different from males. This is due to the cuddle hormone which means that female release an aura that makes people and her surroundings are comfortable with the female leadership style. Females have the desire to personally connect with their employees and always ask how the employee’s condition instead the project’s progress. Females leaders tend to share their feelings with their co-worker and employees and they would also expect to share it back with them. It is not a surprise why female leadership is more popular and likeable than male leadership. Moreover, women prefer verbally expressing their emotions. People would view the female leadership an opportunity to connect and grow with their employees and co-workers. They will also give directions to achieve goals. According to the research of Neuroscientists; oxytocin levels are more in women than men which causes them to have a strong desire to connect and care for their employees. The differences of speaking styles, female tends to have a soft yet firm tone in dealing with stuffs and matters. If male styles speak a bit harsh but for female it used multiple messages behind their words and it can be defined as a quality that people enjoying listening about it. However, there are some cons of female speaking styles because female tend to speak a lot more than males and sometimes people find it a bit boring to listen if the topic is disinterest.

In contrast of leadership structure, female leaders are extremely task-focused and are therefore regarded as perfectionist. This trait helps the organization run properly as well as allowing the employees to work in a harmony condition. Moreover, this is considered as a strategic perspective in leadership. Female leaders also utilise transformational style to lead a society or organization. It is a powerful trait to possess because it makes necessary changes to an organization. Without this trait, there would be no capability of re-inventing at necessary junctures. For example, CEO of Yahoo; Marissa Mayer is a transformational leader because she changed Yahoo from a search engine and app to other products. Besides, female leadership tends to create a flat organization structure. The goal is to create a new product or service and it requires tight integration amongst team members.

In terms of difference self-promoting, female leadership promotes cooperation and collaboration amongst team members. This is really important to manage a large or geographically team. There would also be a chance of reducing the work weight. It is also stated that female leadership skills have the ways of indirect communication thus allowing the team members, followers or employees to use their knowledge to complete the task given.

Last but not least, female leaders’ inclined leadership style differs from males. They mentor and train employees and team members in order to upgrade their current knowledge, skills and abilities. It is extremely important as it would ensure the coverage amongst team members if one associate and is busy with other projects. It is also noted that strategic leadership is associated with inclined leadership style and it is considering as a strategic productivity. It is to develop and predict the aim of the employees forecast of context of their own duty and job. Moreover, it is also improve the productivity and quality and also better performance for their organization.

In conclusion, there is a stark difference of leadership styles between male and female leaders. It should be noted that the facts above are based on what is favoured by a majority of each gender. Therefore, it is recommended that one should not rigidly categorise the two leaders into their respectively genders for different people have different leadership styles regardless of gender.     

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7 Leadership Lessons Men Can Learn from Women

  • Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
  • Cindy Gallop

female leadership styles essay

Too often we ask female leaders to act more like men.

Although the majority of people at the top of organizations are men, studies show that it is actually women who have what it takes to effectively lead. So, rather than advising female executives to act more like men to get ahead, society would be better served by more male leaders trying to emulate women. There are seven big lessons they can learn from the opposite sex. Don’t lean in without the talent to back it up. Know your own limitations. Motivate through transformation. Put your people ahead of yourself. Don’t command; empathize.  Focus on elevating others. And be humble.

Although there is a great deal of public interest in ensuring more women become leaders, thereby reversing their under-representation in the ranks of power, too many suggested solutions are founded on the misconception that women ought to emulate men . The thinking is: “If men have most of the top roles, they must be doing something right, so why not get women to act like them?”

female leadership styles essay

  • Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the Chief Innovation Officer at ManpowerGroup, a professor of business psychology at University College London and at Columbia University, co-founder of , and an associate at Harvard’s Entrepreneurial Finance Lab. He is the author of  Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (and How to Fix It ) , upon which his  TEDx talk  was based. His latest book is I, Human: AI, Automation, and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique.   Find him at . drtcp
  • Cindy Gallop is the founder & CEO of  IfWeRanTheWorld , co-action marketing software (and  HBS case study ), and of  MakeLoveNotPorn  — ‘Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference’. Cindy speaks and  consults , describing her consultancy approach as ‘I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.’ Find her on Twitter at  @cindygallop or at .

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Essay on Women in Leadership

Students are often asked to write an essay on Women in Leadership in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

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100 Words Essay on Women in Leadership


Women in leadership is an important issue. Leaders shape our societies and when women are leaders, they bring unique perspectives and solutions.

Historical Context

Historically, women faced many barriers to leadership. Despite this, some women like Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I showed great leadership.

Modern Times

Today, more women are leaders in politics, business, and other fields. They are proving that women can lead effectively.

Benefits of Women Leaders

Women leaders often focus on cooperation, empathy, and long-term thinking. These qualities can lead to better decisions and outcomes.

We need more women in leadership roles. This will lead to a more balanced and fair society.

250 Words Essay on Women in Leadership

Women have been historically underrepresented in leadership roles, a disparity that has roots in societal norms and gender stereotypes. However, the 21st century has seen significant strides in challenging these norms, with more women assuming leadership positions across various sectors.

Changing Landscape

The landscape of leadership is changing, with an increasing number of women breaking the glass ceiling. This shift is not just a matter of equality, but also of optimizing organizational performance. Studies have shown that companies with women in executive positions tend to outperform those without, indicating that gender diversity can be a competitive advantage.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the progress, women in leadership continue to face unique challenges. Stereotypes persist, and women are often expected to demonstrate leadership styles that conform to traditionally masculine norms. However, the evolving understanding of effective leadership is creating opportunities for women. Emotional intelligence, transformational leadership, and collaborative decision-making—strengths often associated with women—are being recognized as valuable leadership traits.

The rise of women in leadership roles is a testament to societal progress towards gender equality. While challenges remain, the changing perception of leadership presents an opportunity for further progress. The future of leadership is not just about having more women leaders, but about redefining leadership in a way that values and leverages the unique strengths and perspectives that women bring to the table.

500 Words Essay on Women in Leadership

The perception of women in leadership roles has undergone a significant transformation throughout history. Despite the numerous challenges they have faced, women have demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities, breaking the glass ceiling in various sectors worldwide.

The Evolution of Women in Leadership

The evolution of women in leadership is a testament to the relentless pursuit of equality and the dismantling of patriarchal norms. Historically, women were sidelined to domestic roles, but the rise of feminist movements and societal evolution has seen more women ascending to leadership positions. Today, women are leading nations, corporations, and social movements, proving that leadership is not a gender-specific trait.

Challenges Faced by Women Leaders

Despite the progress, women leaders continue to face unique challenges. Stereotypes and biases persist, often resulting in a credibility gap for women leaders. The ‘double bind’ dilemma is another challenge, where women leaders are perceived as either too soft or too hard. The balance between personal life and career is another significant hurdle, with societal expectations often demanding more from women leaders.

The Leadership Style of Women

Women leaders often exhibit transformational leadership styles, focusing on collaboration, empathy, and communication. They tend to encourage participation, share power and information, and aim to enhance the self-worth of their followers. This style of leadership fosters a positive work environment and boosts productivity and job satisfaction.

Impact of Women in Leadership

The impact of women in leadership roles is profound and far-reaching. Studies show companies with women in top management roles experience better financial performance. Women leaders often prioritize social issues and sustainability, contributing to a more inclusive and equitable society. They also serve as role models, inspiring future generations of women leaders.

The journey of women in leadership is a testament to resilience and strength. Despite numerous challenges, women have emerged as effective leaders, making significant contributions to their fields. However, the journey towards gender equality in leadership is far from over. It requires continuous efforts to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments that foster diversity and inclusion. As society progresses, the hope is that leadership will no longer be viewed through the lens of gender, but rather through the lens of capability and effectiveness.

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Female Leadership Essay Example

Women in leadership.

In the contemporary world, leadership is an indispensable attribute that aims at enhancing the continued existence of almost all institutions. Effective leadership skills can also result to organizational changes, which are based on values, vision, as well as symbols and emotional exchange. However, the topic of leadership is one of the topics, which received little attention in the contemporary world. Thus, in women leadership, the following statements conform to the challenges that women face in leadership. Many people believe that women leadership is invisible and that they are holding back their responsibility and leadership, because of the assumption that the corporate world is the men’s industry. Leadership is also seen as a domain that is male dominated and is directly linked to authoritarian leadership style, an attribute which women lack. In the corporate world, tokenism prevails among many of the largest companies, which endangers the value of female leaders when compared to male leaders. Most of the female leaders have lower expectations when compared to men. Therefore, they are not affected by the entitlement effect. In addition, women face a lot of challenges before getting the leadership positions, as compared to the challenges, faced by men.

The topic regarding women leadership has recently attracted much attention, since there is a perception that the leadership positions should be held by men; however, this tradition is challenged by an increased number of female leaders who have taken on leadership roles within many organizations. This paper shows the recognition of female leaders and their performance as leaders in terms of corporeality as well as in a spectacular perspective. The researchers try to understand how female leaders enact their leadership skills through their materiality within a given period of time as well as within different settings, theorizing the processes of becoming leaders. The phenomenon of a woman as a leader is studied as an entity that passes from one incomplete assemblage to another, rather than as a singular developing identity. Therefore, this paper is focused on the paradoxes that complicate the performance of women as leaders. For instance, one of the paradoxes that serve as a rationale for this study is that, while equity has been observed as a truism of contemporary leadership in the society, it is evident that women have been marginalized and are not fairly represented as managers or leaders. In addition, some women, who have been successful leaders, sometimes, acknowledge themselves as both legitimately and at times differently or awkwardly placed as leaders at work.

The study of female leadership within and between such paradoxes is considered to be a problematic and even socially critical theory, as a result of the assumption that the modern literature emphasizes on women`s struggle for political legitimacy. Because of this, there are conceptual tools employed in this study, which are taken from post-feminism as well as post-structuralism. However, such theories refute the literal categories in favor of the ironic categories, which are opposing ideas to be understood as both necessary and true. Thus, to understand female leadership, Jean Francois Lyotard’s (1984) idea of the “performative” should be considered and analyzed.

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Other theories are also based on the spectacle of the ‘the female grotesque’ and insistence on partiality, doubt, and the importance of ‘undoing’ the fixity of modernist categories. Because of this, one influential theory of the ‘cyborg identity’ is used in the study; it is based on the technological assemblage, which is partly human and partly machine-like. Therefore, it allows for the acknowledgement that women leaders demonstrate realms beyond the boundaries, which are imposed by the same differences such as human and machine, present and past etc. Therefore, by employing these tools, the performance of a number of women leaders can be examined, using an empirical study, which focuses on some influential women leaders in male-defined as well as male-dominated settings. Thus, the study is based on two key components, which provide periods of time when women leaders were not recognized, erupting as a unique spectacle in places, which are both enabling and constraining. In addition, this study also foregrounds the unique complexities of three recognized public performances, in which women made a spectacle of themselves, whereas the analysis refuses the condition under which women are recognized as leaders. On the other hand, the analysis demonstrates the value of rethinking the process of leadership in terms of the complexities for women as embodied public performers.

The study also focuses on the tactics, used by women leaders in their work, focusing on professions of law, business, politics, academics etc. The information which is seen as evidence, emerging from the analysis, demonstrates that women leaders are seen to be both enacting as well as troubling leadership conventions. Thus, the analysis shows that there are certain tactical shifts, where women leaders are seen to de-territorialize both the forms of content and forms of expression; it constitutes the performance of women as leaders. As a result, there is visible tactical assemblage, employed by these women leaders; moreover, one can see the ways in which such tactics separate, combine, and compound similarities and/or differences, equality/inequality, either/or binaries. There are certain specific tactics or maneuvers, which are used to achieve the legitimacy in public, revolving around four distinct ironic categories: legitimate cross dressing, assertive defense, proper blasphemy, and humanly-mechanic.

When examined together, these components compel a re-theorizing of the women leadership study as both insider and outsider, an entity, engaged in the on-going study of assembling or disassembling the leadership. In addition, women leadership is demonstrated to be not one, not multiple but multiplicities; hence, this re-theorizing provides a more elaborated account of women leadership, working to achieve legitimacy, credibility, and propriety as leaders. For instance, political leadership, which is usually considered as a substitute for political elite, authority, or political management, is closely related to power. Political leadership is seen as an activity that comprises of provision of vision, or taking stands, and interacting effectively when managing power as well as authority in order to arrive at a sufficient organizational and political realignment to realize the intention of leaders. On the other hand, political leadership is seen as a reciprocal process of mobilizing people with specific objectives, values, and various economic and political recourses in line with competition and conflict management in order to realize the goals independently or mutually, held by both leaders and their subordinates. Based on the ambiguity of this concept, a construct political leadership comprises of terminological uncertainty and conceptual confusion, which, in addition, is confounded by the multidimensional nature of the political leadership phenomenon.

Thus, one of the critical aspects of political leadership is seen in the context of politics of gender. Women are putting a lot of effort in the Supreme Court, which is considered to be a powerful legislative agenda, and a woman was appointed as the secretary of state. There are other important appointments, such as Alexis Herman, a black woman and key White House staff member to Secretary of Labor; however, this did not alter the arithmetic of gender issues in politics. In addition, in the U.S, the number of women in the senate is less than 10%, since women picked up three seats, which is not seen to be enough to have an effect on a shift in power. Thus, there have been obstacles to women participation in politics, considering the male model of leadership and the lack of party support.

Women leadership in the global society

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Globally, less that 0.005% of the world’s political leaders are women; however, the number of women, who hold senior positions in politics, such as prime ministers or presidents, has risen since 1960, particularly when Sirimavo Bandaranaike took office. Looking closely at the period from the 1960s to the1990s the emergence of women leadership in politics arose; for instance, Indira Gandhi was elected as Prime Minister of India in 1966, Golda Meir was also elected as prime minister of Israel in 1969. There are many other examples of women, who obtained senior leadership positions; some of them are: Isabel Peron in Argentina, Elizabeth Domitien in the General African Republic in 1974, Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Portugal’s Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, whom both came to power in 1979.

In the 1980s, there were also women, who came to power, for instance, Vigidis Finnbogadottir in Iceland became the first woman to be elected as a constitutional head of state. In addition, in the same year, Domenica’s Eugenia Charles was elected as the first woman prime minister of the Caribbean country. In 1981, Gro Harlem Brundtland was elected as the first prime minister of Norway. Moreover, she was the youngest leader of the country ever. In 1982, Milka Planinc in Yugoslavia became the Eastern Europe’s first woman prime minister. Other women leaders include Maria Liberia-Peters who was elected as Netherlands-Antilles first prime minister in 1984. In 1986, Corazon Aquino was elected as the first woman president of the Philippines. Furthermore, Benazir Bhutto was elected as the prime minister of Pakistan at the age of 35, hence, becoming the first woman to be elected as the head of the modern Islamic state. However, her bid to retain power never materialized, because the high court of Pakistan made a ruling that her government was corrupt. Her leadership was accused of driving the country into economic crisis by misappropriating billions and using the police to thwart rival political groups. However, she denied the accusations, claiming that her government was ousted in an attempt to consolidate power. In 1988, Burma’s dissident leader, Aung Suu Kyi, emerged on the political scene and as the determined leader she was trying to oppose the nation’s militant style of leadership. However, under house arrest since 1989, Aung Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to the unprecedented political change through political settlement and not violence.

The trend of women leadership has been increasing, and in the 1990s more than 13 women became presidents or prime ministers of their nations. These include the first woman prime minister of Lithuania, Kazimicra Prunskiene, the president of Nicaragua, Violetta Chamorro, Mary Robinson in Ireland, Edith Cresson in France, Ertha Pascai-Trouillot in Haiti; they all were their countries first woman president. In addition, other recognized women leaders are Hanna Suchocka, who became Poland’s prime minister in 1992, Kim Campbell who was elected as the prime minister of Canada, hence becoming the North America`s head of Government. In addition, at the same time, Tansu Ciller was elected as the first female prime minister of Turkey. In 1994, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga became Sri Lanka’s prime minister, and she was recognized as the only woman to follow another woman into office. Ruth Dreifuss was elected as State Councilor; the position is recognized as the highest political leadership position in Switzerland. And finally, Janet Jagan, who at the age of 77was elected as the first woman president in Guyana, and who succeeded like many other recognized global female leaders such as Corazon Aquino and Benazir Bhutto.

There is a critical distinction between leadership and management, for instance leadership is observed as a process, whereas management is a position-based role. On the other hand, leadership is based on identifiable interpersonal roles. Leaders are charged with the role of producing significant changes and developing long-term visions related to solving crisis and empowerment. Leadership rests on the potential, which becomes available when the ego, on which management is based, is peeled away. Based on a theoretical perspective, there are differences between transactional and transformational leadership. In the same way, there is underrepresentation of qualified women, which hold leadership positions, which has resulted into a gender gap, existing in many social areas.

In the contemporary world, there has been a view that only males are capable of performing leadership roles. This notion has led to a situation where women are denied access to leadership. In addition, women who seek to obtain the leadership positions face a lot of obstacles, since they are overwhelmed in tackling the obvious obstacles. If leadership is observed as genderless, then why it is so difficult for women to gain access to the leadership positions. The other crucial aspect is that in most organizations women are seen as effectively providing leadership skills; however, some people still believe that they are less capable and less productive than men.

In most institutions, such as schools, administration is more attuned to feminine than the masculine modes of leadership behaviors. Female leadership attributes, which based on nurturing, being sensitive, empathetic, caring, and cooperative are increasingly associated with effective administration. However, these are innate and immensely crucial characteristics. On the other hand, women leadership qualities are faced with higher attrition and slower career mobility in most sectors. In most organizations, for instance, in the education sector, data has indicated that gender, more than age, experience or competence is a string determinant of the role of individuals in education.

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African-American women, who hold leadership positions in various educational settings face multiple burdens of sexism and racism and hence confront significant challenges in their promotion or climbing up the career ladder. On the other hand, race, just like gender, is the greatest obstacle to career development. Therefore, it is necessary for the management of various institutions to fill ranks, particularly at the highest level of management with individuals who fit the existing norms. Gender has been seen as the major obstacle to women leadership; some people believe that women are compelled to lead in a particular way which is considered the norm; in other words this way should be similar to the manner in which men lead. Therefore, utilization of the method of leadership, portrayed by men, is the easiest way for a woman to be hired for any administrative position or any leadership position, especially since this approach to leadership has been put forward and established as acceptable to the society and successful in attracting promotion as well as recognition.

In some situations, women are seen as members of the unrepresented group and they do not obtain jobs in administration because of the widespread belief that women represent the minorities who lack requisite leadership skills. In addition, women in leadership positions, which are male-dominated, demonstrate that there is a serious need to be better qualified than men against whom they compete. Furthermore, the African American women are required to be twice as good as others with the same leadership aspirations. Therefore, women who want to become leaders are not selected or recruited for training programs which makes it harder for them to break into the system.

There has been a rise in hiring of women in administrative positions; in addition, it has been observed that women tend to occupy leadership positions in most institutions; however gender gap represents an impediment to potential institutional improvement. However, most scholars note that gender has remained an obstacle to women, who seek and would like to obtain leadership positions. This underrepresentation of women in leadership positions has been explained using three models. The first model is known as the meritocracy model or the individual perspective model. These are regarded as psychological orientation. Based on this model women are looked at for cause: personal traits, characteristics, abilities, qualities, as well as individual attitudes, such as self image, confidence, motivation and aspiration. The belief associated with this model is that women are regarded as not assertive enough.

The belief concerning women`s lack of desire for power is not related to their will to obtain power, but rather how power is perceived, which is contrary to men. This method, in which women use power they posses, is different, since women use power to empower others. It is based on the argument that power is not finite but it expands as it is shared. The second model is the organizational perspective or the discriminative model. According to this model, there are differences between career aspirations and achievements of men and women due to the limited opportunities for women, which accompany systemic gender bias. These models are used to explain how organizational structures are used as mechanisms to discriminate against women. Men are seen to advance into higher levels since they are favored in areas of promotional practices. On the other hand, in most settings, women cannot advance because of the barriers they face even if they choose to do so. The other model is woman’s place or social perspective model. Based on this model, cultural and social norms encourage discriminatory practices. It is observed that these societal norms include differences in payment and status.

Women leadership styles According to Dr. Patricia Gabow

According to interview with Dr. Patricia Gabow, it is vivid that the main attribute that inspired her to great heights in the hospital management in Denver is her family. Patricia claims that the separation from the City Government was a way of the hospital services` improvement. She claims that leadership can be defined as the dynamic association, which is based on mutual influence and common purpose of collaborators and leaders. Consequently, the leadership style is the manner and approach of the provision of plans, direction and motivation of individuals. There are three different types of leadership. These are authoritarian or autocratic, participative or democratic and deligative or free reign. A good leader should use all the three styles, but some bad leaders tend to incline to one style. The autocratic style is a case whereby the leader tells his/her employers what is to be done and how it should be done. In this way, he/she does not get any advice from the workers. This style can be applied when there is limited time and the employers are willing to work.

Participative leader considers the ideas of some of his/her employees and uses these ideas in the decision-making process. He/she, however, makes the final decision, which shows his/her authority. It is used in cases when both the leader and the other workers have some information. The best decisions can be drawn from this style of leadership. The deligative style is where the employees are allowed to make decisions, though the leader is still responsible for the decisions made. It is used when the leader has full confidence on the workers. For the purposes of this paper I will only consider the authoritarian and democratic styles.

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There are differences between men and women leadership styles; however, the difference does not mean that one dominates over the other. The differences in leadership styles are that men observe leadership as leading whereas women observe leadership as facilitating. On the other hand, women are seen to embrace relationships, sharing, and process, while men are seen to focus on task execution, organizational goals` achievement, hoarding of information as well as winning. Most women leaders focus mostly on instructional leadership styles in supervisory practices. It is observed that in the area of instructional leadership women spend many years as administrators and acquire more educational skills as compared to men.

Most women leaders focus more on instructional leadership, whereas, on the other hand, men focus mostly on organizational matters. In addition, women focus on facilitative leadership, hence enabling others to make their contributions through delegation of duties, encouragement, as well as, nudging from behind. Therefore leadership attributes, demonstrated by women, focus on developing relationships, since they interact more frequently than men; it is also observed that men stress task accomplishment and tend to lead their subordinates through a series of concrete exchanges that encompass rewarding employees for a task well-performed and punishing them for an ineffective job performance. However, most women leaders encourage contributive and consensual decision making and emphasize more the process, whereas men tend to focus on majority rule as well as emphasizing organizational goals` achievement. Therefore, men use the traditional top-down leadership style, whereas women pay more attention to the transformational leadership style, transforming the subordinates` self-interest into achieving organizational goals by encouraging their feelings and perceptions of self-worth, active participation and sharing of information. Women spend a lot of time in unscheduled meetings and are more likely to interact with their employees.

The leadership qualities of women are characterized by six significant patterns, which are identified as behaviors that empower, restructure, teach, provide role models, stimulate group discussion, as well as, encourage openness. On the other hand, Gillet-Karam used four behaviors, such as vision behavior; whereby, in this category, women leaders are observed to take more risks to bring about appropriate changes. On the other hand, according to the people behavior, women leaders provide more care and show respect to their subordinates. As for influence behavior, women are seen to act collaboratively, and for the values behavior, women are seen to spend most of their time building trust as well as openness among their subordinates. No matter how much the leadership qualities of women are delineated, women have been described to possess the leadership capabilities and skills to be excellent leaders. The capabilities of women leaders are the following: women leaders are seen to have a greater knowledge of and concern for instructional supervision. In addition, women leaders are seen to be more effective administrators.

Barriers to effective women leadership

There are many barriers that impede the leadership of women. There are certain myths, which suggest that societal attitudes towards women is an obstacle that identifies women leaders as too weak physically; hence they are not task oriented enough. In addition, women leaders are seen to be too dependent on feedback as well as on the evaluation of others. In most cases, women receive little or no encouragement to acquire leadership positions, whereas men are encouraged to enter in leadership positions to a greater degree than women. This lack of encouragement leads women to be discouraged to obtain leadership positions. This lack of encouragement has resulted into women leaving their professions in greater numbers than men. On the other hand, the lack of formal as well as informal social networks results into the lack of recognition, which is mostly related to career advancement.

Leadership requires hard work, long work hours and a lot of in-house politics, which is stress provoking, especially when women have childcare and other related home responsibilities. A woman is able to work for more than 70 hours per week and this may conflict with family responsibilities. Therefore, the isolation, which is linked to the minority status, gender expectations, as well as gender bias, coupled with the vast amount of stress, which forms part of the job, coupled with the lonely at the top feelings are some of the barriers, which women experience. The other barriers involve the lack of role models as well as mentors for women because there are only a few women who are holding leadership positions.

One of the ways to encourage women to seek for the leadership positions is mentoring. This is an important process, which can be used to encourage women to succeed in acquiring leadership positions. Mentoring is an important process, which can greatly enhance income, promoting responsibilities for individuals, who experience such relationships. In addition, mentoring can enhance the needs of both women and institutions and can assist in attracting and retaining women in their professions. Mentoring of younger employees can increase retention and reduce turnover, and assist mentees in dealing with organizational matters and accelerate their assimilation into the organizational culture. The women mentees may benefit, since there are people who care enough to provide support to them, advice and assist them in the interpretation of information. There are many benefits of mentoring, which are not only being felt by the mentees and the institutions, but also by the mentors themselves. The mentees, mentors as well as the entire organization experience the fulfillment of transmitting the long-earned wisdom, hence influencing the next generation of the upper management, as well as, achieving appreciation from the younger employees.

It is not strange for women to have men who act as mentors, but it is advisable for women to have female mentors, because when the females interact and share their experiences and knowledge, the results become of paramount significance to women. In addition, this ensures that the mentoring process assists the women in developing self-esteem, coupled with aggressive managerial personalities as well as non-traditional attitudes about women and their jobs. Thus, nurturing of attitudes and characteristics would allow for success of the organization. Thus, mentoring may be used to assist the present and future leaders to exhibit personalities that make it possible for women to advance into the leadership positions.

Useful techniques for advancement

In order to obtain leadership positions, there are certain careers enhancing techniques, which may be used by women. For example, the career enhancing techniques include availing themselves to the mentors, applying sponsors as role models, and providing women with a means for obtaining vital information as well as moral support and providing constructive means of dealing with stress and frustration at the workplace. It is also necessary to share feelings about work and to provide encouragement to one another. Therefore, women should be able to understand what their career entails and develop good listening and communication skills and other appropriate skills that may help them compete against everyone else at a particular level. In addition, women should be able not to allow anyone to discourage or ignore their abilities. They should display visible and valued competencies at workplace, particularly for jobs, which are regarded as stepping stones to the top. On the other hand, women should know what they want by becoming willing to balance, prioritize, and make sacrifices to excel to the top. Finally, women should be in a position to identify individuals, who can assist them when they are in unrelated jobs. This can be achieved by planning and strategizing.

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Women and Men Leadership Styles Comparison


Many organizations, as well as societies, are in need of different leadership styles to achieve their desired interests. The modern day feminists accuse the existence of the glass ceiling because it impedes the chances of women ascending to higher positions, but this article would be concerned with gender differences in leadership only. In the recent decades, women have done well in leadership because they have entered into lower and mid-level managerial positions 1 .

However, they still face the greatest challenge whereby their participation in senior management is problematic. Several studies claim differences in leadership styles between the two genders exist while some do not establish any variation. This article does not venture into the debate, but instead it aspires to present an overview of the differences in leadership styles between women and men with an aim of providing a synthesis of the existing literature. Many studies in the fields of management, political science, sociology, and psychology focus on the role of women in leadership and management.

This paper would not go into the details of what the articles say apart from summarizing the studies under the literature review section before moving on to suggest a method of data collection to determine whether indeed differences in leadership styles between the two genders exist. In the first section of the paper, a summary of female leadership would be looked at, as well as the effects of sex-role stereotyping. For this to be achieved, the historical perspective of female leadership would be given, as it would facilitate the understanding of the changes on gender differences. The second section of the paper suggests a methodology that would be employed in collecting the views of various participants on female leadership. The last section is the conclusion based on the reviewed literature and the collected data on the female leadership.

Before embarking on the analysis, two clarifications are made, one being the usage of the words leader and manager 2 . The two have different meanings, especially in the study of management, but they will be used interchangeably in this article 3 . Secondly, the paper does not focus on the biological differences that exist between the two genders, but instead the emphasis would be placed on the social roles, particularly in the modern society, as they are often influenced by culture.

Women as Leaders

Several women are slowly taking over the responsibilities that were initially reserved for men in the traditional labour market. However, the idea of women as leaders is uncommon in many quarters, irrespective of gender and things are not expected to change any soon due to the rigid structure held in many modern societies because the traditional norms of leadership are deep-rooted 4 . In many societies, including those of the developed nations, leaders are known to be men with very few exceptions meaning women were only allowed to fill the leadership positions in the organizations that only served them, such as sonorities, convents, and the feminist institutions of learning.

Unfortunately, institutions of high learning meant for women had men as their presidents implying that female leaders were still expected to report to male presidents. In many communities, it is often assumed that leadership belongs to men and this is imbedded in people’s thinking and language. A good leader is described using adjectives, such as spirited, hard liner, and dominant, which are all associated with masculinity. In case a woman manages to achieve the leadership status, she would be regarded as an abnormal and many female employees who attain high positions are likely to be compared to men instead of giving them credit based on their achievements 5 .

The achievements of Margaret Thatcher could not be compared to any of other prime ministers in the century since she turned the country into one of the economic hubs in the continent with her policy of privatization of public enterprises. Instead of appreciating her for the economic achievements, she was referred to as the “best man” in Great Britain, with some terming her the “iron lady” meaning she ruled with an iron fist.

Societies all over the world are trying to increase female participation in leadership through formulating laws that allow them to be incorporated into leadership, such as affirmative action. Surprisingly, stereotypes are still existent since women will still be rebuked while serving their societies at the high positions. In fact, some studies suggest that stereotypes are to blame for the many problems that female leaders face in their positions. In this case, it is often viewed that women do not fit the formulaic leader pattern and those intending to try their lack have to be highly qualified, posses proven records of performance, and be well prepared to face all sorts of challenges.

Once a woman attains the leadership position in society, whether in an organization or the public, she is expected to behave just as a male leader would do instead of trying to come up with a different style that would change the societal living conditions or improve the performance of the organization. It is observed that a woman would be in a position to bring change if allowed to bring in new talent and fresh approach to issues. In early 1960s and 1970s, many studies were conducted to establish whether women and men had similar styles of leadership 6 . Many of these studies concluded that men are more competent while women tend to be warm and expressive in what they do as far as leadership and management is concerned.

This implies that masculinity and femininity were viewed as opposite and each person was expected to fall in the correct category while anyone who would be seen as being in the middle would be considered maladjusted 7 .

Many scholars underscore the fact that the process of socialization and the rigid social structure are to blame for the low position that women hold in the field of management and leadership. The researcher uses the term to explain how the society could destabilize the gender system to benefit each person in society. In the end, he formulates a theory based on the term whereby he notes that reframing the questions is mandatory in case the society is to achieve its desired interests in terms of gender equality. First, all studies on gender roles should place much emphasis on the time and the way in which social interactions turn out to be gendered.

Additionally, studies have to focus on the issue of social interactions in relation to gender differences in leadership. In the same analysis, the scholar wanted to establish whether gendered interactions have any influences in inequality. While insisting on the importance of his assumption on doing gender, he suggested that it has changed the way scholars approach the issue of female leadership in at least four ways. First, it dispels the notion that the process of socialization is to blame for the problems that female leaders, as well as other women face in the modern society. In this case, the idea that children internalize a set of rules, standards, and practices as issued by parents and teachers is misplaced instead men and women tend to generate social relationships as their interact throughout in life. Based on the assumption, gender is dynamic in the sense that the most important behaviour is likely to change with time 8 .

The socialization theories postulate that individuals have a tendency of internalizing gendered norms, especially those that were salient in childhood, but the new theory of doing gender has a different postulation suggesting that individuals simply respond to the changes taking place in the modern society. In this regard, changing the gender relations does not need re-socialization of the entire generation, as many people would think. The second contribution of doing gender is its exposure of the weaknesses of psychological theories, as it mainly exposed the flaws of deterministic structural accounts of gender.

The psychological theories made people believe that gender differences come from the different resources that could be accessed by both men and women. For psychologists, the domination and subordination of women is a result of the superiority of men economically because they contribute a lot in the funding of family budgets. However, the theory has a different suggestion since studies confirm that women are still oppressed even though they might be contributing half of the family budget. Third, the notion that some differences are natural is highly disputed by the new theory. The scholar claims that the difference has to be reconstructed repeatedly in order to maintain the appearance of naturalness 9 .

A new concept referred to as hegemonic masculinity was developed in 2008, which has an influence in gender roles. In the early 1980s, the idea has been influencing the views of men on gender and social hierarchy. Through their analysis on the positions of men and women, it is possible to give accounts on feminism and sociological models of gender in general. In this case, masculinity is employed effectively in the study of inequalities in education, as well as violence, which facilitate the provision of counselling services, particularly on the health. In their view, gender relations could better be understood through functionalism meaning viewing gender roles as a self-contained and self-reproducing. In this regard, each element has to function properly in order to make the entire system complete. It is noted that male dominance and female subordination could better be understood through an assessment of the historical process and it cannot be self-reproducing.

However, the scholars underscore the fact that masculine domination is a concept that is open to challenge, which implies a considerate effort has to be placed in order to maintain it. Women are deliberately excluded from the public affairs through homo-sociality, as suggested by Bird’s research. In this study, they prove that hegemonic masculinity is not self-reproducing, as it entails a social creation that members of society decide whether to uphold it or discard through habit or any other available mechanism. In case men would want to maintain any pattern of hegemony, policing has to be initiated, which includes exclusion and discrediting of women. Women are mainly issued with security threats that make them scared leading to homophobic assaults and murders. The education system is also structured in the way suggesting that boys should be tested for masculinity.

Historical Perspective of Gendered Roles

The current state of affairs cannot be understood without visiting the previous status of women regarding leadership. Several changes have taken place, with the main aim of including women in leadership, but they are not enough to realize the objectives of women aspiring to be leaders. Before 1980s, the gendered differences in leadership were a neglected topic that many researchers were never interested in exploring it. It was assumed that a leader had to possess certain characteristics that would make him or her effective manager 10 . For some scholars, it would be difficult to develop the qualities of an efficient leader through the process socialization in the sense that they are inborn, universal, and mixed.

The study of gender differences in leadership was never important because of the existence of the great man theory, which suggested that any leader had to be a man with exceptional qualities. In 1940s, new theories of leadership were developed, which effectively displaced the trait theory that had perhaps neglected the contributions of women in leadership 11 . By then, situational leadership had gained root suggesting that different situations called for different styles. With time, psychological studies started examining the role of gender in management and leadership, with much emphasis on the personality and behaviour patterns since they were responsible for the low status of women in society. In this case, person-centred variables were seen as playing an important role in trying to explain the participation of an individual in society 12 .

Many studies encouraged women to focus on changing their behaviour and ensuring that they suit in the society instead of changing the organizational behaviour. It was later identified that women were suffering because of men’s power that never provided any opportunity to them. Women lack what many scholars term as leadership qualities because they are never given any opportunity in organizations to play their roles freely since they always hold positions of little influence with no opportunity to develop professionally. The behaviour that any woman espouses pertaining to leadership reflects lack of power meaning the behaviour is not natural, as many men have always suggested. Organizations adopt unethical cultures that disenfranchise women to an extent that they cannot have the needed features that determine success. In studies focusing on communication, researchers observe that women and men are given specific instructions on the usage of language.

Children are taken through different experiences based on gender, which encourage them to value different things. For men, they are often instructed to value status, independence, and personal power while a woman is simply shown how to develop connections, respect authority, and value the power of the community. When children grow up, their values are radically different meaning their behaviour will definitely vary.

Literature Review

Masculinity played an important role for the governor in capturing the California gubernatorial seat. The actor turned politician had developed a violent persona in 1980s that played a role in reshaping the culture of the American man after the Vietnam War. Soon after, the masculinity culture was considered illegitimate, as many viewed it as mockery to the culture of women 13 . In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the actor managed to form an image of masculinity, but they seen as self-mocking. He focused mainly on care and shielding of children through body building training. In the latest movie referred to as the Kindergarten Commando, he notes that hegemonic masculinity plays a major role of foregrounding muscles, sturdiness, and mitigating the threat for violence.

In the US politics, the Republican Party always makes effective use of masculine imagery to convince voters to accept its policies, especially when the country is faced with national security threats and rising insecurity. For liberals, they are viewed as feminine because they often insist on peaceful resolution of conflicts instead of sending troops to intervene militarily 14 . As soon as president Obama was declared winner, many analysts commented that the country would be peacefully since the party is never interested in aggressive foreign policy. At the time, Bush, together with his Republican Party, was viewed as being masculine in the sense that they insisted in the mantra policies 15 .

The roles of women have traditionally been constructed around motherhood meaning female members of the family should ensure the family is taken good care of, especially when it comes of accomplishing the household chores 16 . However, the scholar notes that the current trend suggests something different in the sense that many women prefer remaining childless as opposed to giving birth, as this would subordinate them. The researcher conducted a study on at least twenty-five women who chose to remain childless voluntarily 17 . The study came up with stunning conclusions because many women were interested in living childless, as this would definitely increase their bargaining power in any relationship. Again, the scholar established that women have specific roles to play in the family set up, irrespective of the type of society be it rural, urban, or industrial 18 .

A new generation of women exists in the modern society and a number of them are interested in joining the military, with quite a number wanting to take over senior positions. The idea to include women in the professions that were traditionally reserved for men is viewed as a radical one with an aim of changing the gender relations. The researcher undertook a study that collected the views of thirty-eight women and men in the military branch referred to as ROTC. The study aimed at establishing how women are able to manipulate through a tight system that does not recognize their contributions. In other words, the scholar sought to understand the way in which a woman would find her way in the military yet it is mainly a masculine profession. Additionally, the researcher is interested in knowing some of the strategies that would perhaps offer an opportunity to a woman to achieve her interest in the military 19 .

The military is a very strict organization that calls on the member to be courageous always since it entails defending ones country. In war against terrorism in Iraq, at least eleven women lost their limbs fighting for the interests of their country. In her view, these women had a set a stage for the new generation of women who would do everything possible to ensure that the y achieve what is believed to belong to men only 20 . However, the case of the eleven women raises a question on whether the military is prepared to accept change in the sense that women should be allowed to occupy high positions.

Many researchers are asking whether the government is proving adequate opportunities for female soldieries by empowering them with sufficient programs. For some scholars, the military is doing nothing to help women apart from exploiting their labour in the same way private and public corporations are doing all over the world. For some analysts, the inclusion of women in the military is an enabling factor since its structures demand a physically powerful person, irrespective of gender, a mentally stable individual, goal-oriented employees, and aggressive people who have the potential to survive in a violent environment, use weapons, and be prepared to die any time.


Data-collection process.

Research performed in a rigorous manner could lead to more effective practices than decisions based mainly on intuition, personal preferences, or common sense. Based on this, this study will utilize the views garnered through the interviews in order to develop a sufficient platform from which effective and above all accurate conclusions can be developed. The data-collection process will actually be quite straightforward. Preparation for the data collection process will also be necessary to assure the participants of the safe storage of information before the interview begins to encourage them to give genuine answers. Responses will be more favourable if the interview is conducted privately. This approach will mitigate accommodation costs, thus making the project more cost effective.

Evaluating the Questionnaire Responses

Two methods may be used to score the test, including raw score and relative score. Both will be used for comparison in the study. The raw-score method is a simple sum of the responses within each scale. This involves merely examining which responses seem similar to each other or which are widely divergent. The relative-scoring method compares scales for relative contribution to the overall score. The relative proportion for each scale is found by dividing the individual mean score for the scale by the combined means for all scales. Unlike other types of questionnaires administered through similar studies, this questionnaire does not utilize a score or point system wherein responses are limited to a set amount.

The reason behind this is quite simple meaning the researcher is attempting to gauge the individual accounts of the research subjects in the form of data, which involves their own personal accounts and experiences regarding the participation. One must note, though, that the researcher did take into consideration the use of a generalized research questionnaire form. However, based on the necessity of personal responses, this study considers generalized questionnaire a method that would divulge the type of data needed given the necessity of examining individual experiences at the local level.

Data Analysis – SPSS

The data-analysis program known as SPSS for Windows will be used for purposes of analyzing the quantitative data. The basic initial steps will include data coding, entry, cleaning, analyses, and interpretation. Univariate analyses aimed at generating frequency distributions and descriptive analyses will be used to assess the leadership chances of women in society. The data resulting from the frequency distributions would further be harnessed before presenting it using pie charts, tables, and bar graphs in order to present the needed data for this study. The data from the study will also be analyzed using t -tests and ANOVA in order to determine any correlations between female leadership and gender relations. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis will be conducted with social interaction conditions acting as the moderator.

Reliability and Validity

Reliability in any research process implies that the same set of data would have been collected each time in repeat examinations of the same variable or phenomenon otherwise referred to as consistency of measurement. To realize reliability of the study findings, the researcher will certify that items incorporated in the survey schedule will only capture data that are of interest to the broader objectives of the study. The range of measurement of the sets of the survey schedules will also be adjusted upward to enhance internal consistency of the study findings. In addition, the researcher will utilize multiple indicators to ensure the collection of objective and unabridged data.

Validity is a measurement that is used to describe a measure or instrument that correctly reflects the variable or phenomena it is intended to evaluate thus reinforcing the conclusions, assumptions, and propositions made from the analysis of data. Internal validity, which denotes the soundness of a study or investigation, will be achieved through the establishment of a framework for the application of effective sampling techniques and employing a validated and reliable survey schedule for the proposal of data collection. The same procedures in combination with the recruitment of a representative sample size will be used to achieve external validity hence ensuring that the study findings can be generalized to other settings.

For this reason, the involvement of other professional colleagues to review the data will contribute to the validity of the study. The researcher will determine the validity and integrity of the study with appropriate attributes of trustworthiness, rigor, and quality. Trustworthiness is the degree to which the reader can trust the findings. Trust is not established but instead built and nurtured. This study will first try to cultivate trust in the study participants by conveying to them that the research goal is simply to determine how they feel about female leadership and their views on it, as well as its impact on their daily lives.

The rigor of the study must be evident when the researcher presents the findings. A rigorous study has to be designed, conducted, and analyzed properly (Shank, 2006). The researcher will demonstrate the study’s rigorous design by reporting in the method section that the study was developed with the expert guidance of University faculty, was reviewed, and approved by the board and that the study would be conducted by closely following the approved design.

Mailings would be sent to the individual institutions, agencies, and businesses organizations explaining the main objective of the study and requesting their consent for participation. Further communication will proceed via e-mail between those who agree to take part in the survey and the researcher to ensure that all individuals understand the requirements of the study. The researcher will also take time to elaborate the rights of participants during the study process including the right to informed consent and the right to confidentiality. By addressing these concerns through guidelines on proper ethics and research, it is expected that few ethical concerns will need to be addressed.

According to the National Democratic Institute chairperson Madeleine Albright, each society deserves the best leadership meaning women should be given a chance to participate in decision-making at various levels, both nationally and globally. The chairperson is of the view that each member of society, irrespective of gender, should be allowed to compete in elections. Going contrary to this would be depriving people of their rights and freedoms. Providing an enabling environment for individual fulfilment allows both genders to engage in politics and formulation of policy in government, which result in the development of democracy and its subsequent sustainability 21 .

In many parts of the world, women are underrepresented in leadership positions whereby they are never considered for high positions. During an electioneering process for instance, the society tends to appreciate the views of men while neglecting the ideas of women, yet they play a major role in socio-economic and political development. Feminists underscore the fact that society cannot achieve its desired interests in case half of its population is underrepresented in policy formulation 22 . Women face similar challenges globally ranging from political to socio-economic, but the solution lies with the government, as it is expected to formulate a stronger policy that will see many women participate in political activities. In this regard, women must be well represented in social movements, political parties, and government, as this would facilitate the creation of a stronger and effervescent society.

This article looks at how the society discriminates women in political activities. Regarding elected positions, women rarely find chances to participate fully while public appoints are skewed towards one gender. The paper starts by observing the importance of incorporating women in socio-political and economic development before analyzing the challenges facing their participation.

Why Involve Women

Studies show that many women across the world are interested in helping their societies reduce the conditions that bring about suffering through policy formulation and idea generation. Through this, social problems are likely to be addressed, especially those facing women, children, and the disadvantaged 23 . For instance, many women across the world have special problems that would better be addressed by women leaders, including issues to do with reproductive health and security. The issue of abortion is purely a female problem because it mainly affects them, but it is unfortunate that only men are involved in the debate in various parliaments leading to discrimination. Again, participation of women in leadership and political activities is likely to promote honesty, as it has already been proved in South America and Europe that a female president does not support any act that would lead to misappropriation of funds. Based on this, the instances of corruption are likely to go down with the involvement of women in leadership.

One of the global problems facing the many governments is the issue of security since instances of terrorism and inter-ethnic wars are in the increase 24 . Terrorists and other belligerent actors in the international system believe that women are soft sports and are likely to be targeted with an aim of intimidating the state and world leaders. If women are involved in peace building initiatives, a likelihood that these conflicts will reduce and the society will be a peaceful place for everyone to live is high 25 . World leaders are constantly engaged in talks to end conflicts, but better results would be achieved in case women are included in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.

In fact, peace agreements would be sustainable given the fact that they would be inclusive. Studies show that no female leader would be supportive of a policy that insists on war because she knows that women and children would be the sufferers, as men have the ways of defending themselves. Recently, it has been proved that female leaders have the capacity of resolving conflicts. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, strongly opposed the idea of sending troops to Egypt and Libya with claims that children and women would suffer. In this case, he insisted on dialogue forcing the US to take a back seat in handling global issues for the first time in history.

States with women as presidents are known to support programs aiming at improving people’s educational levels, road and rail network, healthcare standards, and financial power. Germany is one such country that has one of the strongest female leaders in the modern times and she is supportive of economic and social development. Germany is a country with a long history of technological development, but its leadership has always let down the people because resources are channelled to military development and proliferation of weapons instead of developing the infrastructure.

Hitler was among the leaders to have misused the country’s resources to engage in unnecessary wars that affected the economic development of the state for several years. Currently, Germany is one of the economic powerhouses in Europe to an extent of requesting to bail out states facing economic challenges with men as their leaders. Britain achieved several economic objectives under Margaret Thatcher as the prime minister since she ended corruption by insisting on the privatization of public corporations that were almost being declared bankrupt because of mismanagement and misallocation of funds. In various Scandinavian countries, women leaders are mainly associated with socialist parties with the major aim of promoting health, education, and equality. In the Latin American region, Argentina and Chile made history by electing women to positions of influence when they voted for female presidents.

In Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, women were elected as prime ministers and their achievements are incomparable since they almost eliminated the problem that have been facing the region since independence, which is drug trafficking 26 . Brazil and Costa Rica are among the latest countries to have elected women as their heads of states and their performance confirm the assertion that women are never interested in conflicts, but instead they have the interests of the community at heart meaning they simply want to change things in society. Spain and Sweden are among countries in Europe to have elected female presidents when the society needed them most since they brought tremendous changes that proved the critics wrong.

Women are engaged in all sorts of campaigns to ensure they are involved in political processes, as well as top position in government, but they have to do something extra to force their way out since they are trapped in unproductive culture, male chauvinism, and a complex social structure that do not support their normal living. Right from childhood, a woman knows that she has to respect men meaning they live under a state of false consciousness since physical features should not be used to subjugate a section of society 27 . The percentage of women both in elected and appointed positions is always varies in several countries in the sense that it always below par. Based on this, women do not have the numbers needed to bring about changes in political processes and leadership in government.

Many countries have realized the problem whereby affirmative action is meant to bring fairness, but women are still faced with the challenge of convincing society to accept them as genuine leaders aiming at instituting reforms that would benefit each individual. When women seek political offices, they are always viewed negatively since many are accused of trying to change the social structure radically, which would result in anomy or formlessness 28 . In Argentina, at least forty percent of all positions were taken over by women in the lower house in 2009, but it is unfortunate that only eight percent of all positions went to women in Colombia.

Somebody wonders why women are underrepresented in various countries, but the answer lies with the country’s electoral laws because women are not given adequate protection. In electoral systems that favour proportional representations, Paxton and Hughes (2014) are of the view that many women are likely to be elected as opposed to the majority system, which means plurinominal election districts, as well as the legislative quotas play a significant role in ensuring that women are elected to positions of influence 29 .

Political parties are to blame for the tribulations of women as far as election to high positions and government appointments are concerned since they ensure that only men nominated for elections and this trend is common in the developing countries whereby parties are private properties owned, financed, and controlled by a single individual. In this case, a woman is expected to bend low for her to be given nomination, something proving that internal democracy in parties is a matter of concern for many women across the world, which prevents their chances of success. In case a political party is elected to office, its members are likely to ensure that their close confidants, who helped them in campaigns either financially or morally, are awarded with prestigious positions, such as ambassador, cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, and heads of key public corporations.

Unfortunately, women are rarely considered when making important appointments and their presence in cabinet is simply for publicity because they are given inferior positions that do not give them an opportunity to influence policy formulation process. Other issues, such as ethnicity and socio-economic statuses, worsen the situation for women. The prevailing conditions cannot allow women to participate fully in political activities because parties in the modern society play a critical role in power acquisition, something suggesting that women will continue facing the same problem unless something is done to increase their participation. A political party decides who gets the position of influence meaning they are gatekeepers of women’s progress as far as parity is concerned.

Cragin, K., & Daly, S. A. (2009). Women as terrorists: Mothers, recruiters, and martyrs . Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger Security International. Web.

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Paxton, P. M., & Hughes, M. M. (2014). Women, politics, and power: A global perspective . Oxford: University of Oxford. Web.

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2010) Emotion, Seduction, and Intimacy: Alternative Perspectives on Human Behavior . Seattle: Libertarian. Web.

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Adams, R.B., & Funk, P. (2012). Beyond the glass ceiling: Does gender matter? Management Science , 58 (2), 219–235. Web.

Brescoll, V. L. (2011). Who takes the floor and why? Gender, power, and volubility in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly , 56 (2), 622-641. Web.

Judge, T.A., & Piccolo. R.F. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology , 89 (1), 901–910. Web.

Krishnan, H.A., & Park, D. (2005). A few good women—on top management teams. Journal of Business Research , 58 (3), 1712–172. Web.

Paxton, P., Kunovich, S., & Hughes, M.M. (2007). Gender in politics. Annual Review of Sociology , 33 (3), 263-284. Web.

Wängnerud, L. (2009). Women in parliaments: Descriptive and substantive representation. Annual Review of Political Science , 12 (3), 51-69. Web.

1 McTavish, D., & Miller, K. (2006). Women in leadership and management . Cheltenham: E. Elgar. P. 112. Web.

2 Glechner, M. J. (2009). Sex Changes: Transformations in Society and Psychoanalysis . New York: Taylor & Francis. Web.

3 Fuller, K. (2013). Gender, identity, and educational leadership . London: Bloomsbury Academic. P. 32. Web.

4 Wängnerud, L. (2009). Women in parliaments: Descriptive and substantive representation. Annual Review of Political Science , 12 (3), 51. Web.

5 Werhane, P. H., & Painter-Morland, M. (2011). Leadership, gender, and organization . Dordrecht: Springer. P. 74. Web.

6 Krishnan, H.A., & Park, D. (2005). A few good women—on top management teams. Journal of Business Research , 58 (3), 1712–172. Web.

7 Cragin, K., & Daly, S. A. (2009). Women as terrorists: Mothers, recruiters, and martyrs . Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger Security International. Web.

8 Fuller, K. (2013). Gender, identity, and educational leadership . London: Bloomsbury Academic. Web.

9 Brescoll, V. L. (2011). Who takes the floor and why? Gender, power, and volubility in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly , 56 (2), 622-641. P. 631. Web.

10 Cragin, K., & Daly, S. A. (2009). Women as terrorists: Mothers, recruiters, and martyrs . Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger Security International. P. 12. Web.

11 Griselda, P. (2007). Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space, and the Archive . New York: Routledge. Web.

12 Klenke, K. (1996). Women and leadership: A contextual perspective . New York: Springer Pub. Co. Web.

13 Brescoll, V. L. (2011). Who takes the floor and why? Gender, power, and volubility in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly , 56 (2), 622-641. P. 631. Web.

14 Adams, R.B., & Ferreira, D. (2009). Women in the boardroom and their impact on governance and performance. Journal of Financial Economics , 94 (1), 291-309. Web.

15 Adams, R.B., & Funk, P. (2012). Beyond the glass ceiling: Does gender matter? Management Science , 58 (2), 219–235. P. 226. Web.

16 Cragin, K., & Daly, S. A. (2009). Women as terrorists: Mothers, recruiters, and martyrs . Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger Security International. P. 21. Web.

17 Judge, T.A., & Piccolo. R.F. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology , 89 (1), 901–910. P. 904. Web.

18 Wängnerud, L. (2009). Women in parliaments: Descriptive and substantive representation. Annual Review of Political Science , 12 (3), 51-69. P. 61. Web.

19 Paxton, P., Kunovich, S., & Hughes, M.M. (2007). Gender in politics. Annual Review of Sociology , 33 (3), 263-284. P. 272. Web.

20 Krishnan, H.A., & Park, D. (2005). A few good women—on top management teams. Journal of Business Research , 58 (3), 112–172. P. 138. Web.

21 McTavish, D., & Miller, K. (2006). Women in leadership and management . Cheltenham: E. Elgar. Web.

22 Paludi, M. A., & Coates, B. E. (2011). Women as transformational leaders: From grassroots to global interests . Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. Web.

23 Fuller, K. (2013). Gender, identity, and educational leadership . London: Bloomsbury Academic. Web.

24 Henderson, S., Jeydel, A. S., & Henderson, S. (2010). Women and politics in a global world . New York: Oxford University Press. Web.

25 Henderson, S., Jeydel, A. S., & Henderson, S. (2010). Women and politics in a global world . New York: Oxford University Press. p. 90. Web.

26 Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2010) Emotion, Seduction, and Intimacy: Alternative Perspectives on Human Behavior . Seattle: Libertarian. Web.

27 Cragin, K., & Daly, S. A. (2009). Women as terrorists: Mothers, recruiters, and martyrs . Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger Security International. Web.

28 Farrell, W., & Sterba, J. (2008). Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men . New York: Oxford University Press. Web.

29 Paxton, P. M., & Hughes, M. M. (2014). Women, politics, and power: A global perspective . Oxford: University of Oxford. P. 11. Web.

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    Having female leaders in positions of influence to serve as role models is not only critical to the career advancement of women, but stands to generate broader societal impacts on pay equity, changing workplace policies in ways that benefit both men and women, and attracting a more diverse workforce.

  6. Women in leadership

    Text preview of this essay: This page of the essay has 1,548 words. Download the full version above. 'Women in leadership' is a phenomena that has obtained many attention over the past couple of years. Nowadays more young woman graduate of Universities, yet the amount of female leader seems remarkable low (in 2012 only 16,6%).

  7. The Benefits of Promoting Gender Diversity in Leadership

    Discover the value of diverse leadership styles. Understanding the various ways in which men and women work, communicate, and lead is a critical step in promoting and achieving gender parity. Incorporating and encouraging those differences provides strength and flexibility to an organization's leadership, and that diversity of thought can ...

  8. Chapter 2: What Makes a Good Leader, and Does Gender Matter?

    Women and Leadership Chapter 2: What Makes a Good Leader, and Does Gender Matter? Whether they are heading a major corporation or serving in elected office, leaders bring a combination of traits to the table. In the public's estimation, some traits are clearly more important than others.

  9. PDF Gender and Perceptions of Leadership Effectiveness

    The arguments for a "female advantage" in leadership generally stem from the belief that women are more likely than men to adopt collaborative and empowering leadership styles, while men are disadvantaged be- cause their leadership styles include more command-and-control behaviors and the assertion of power.

  10. Female Leadership: The New Approach In The Workplace

    Women leaders tend to use an empathetic style to influence others and to build trust, which produces productive and effective teams. In fact, a 2019 S&P Global Markets Intelligence Study found...

  11. Female Leadership Advantage and Disadvantage: Resolving the

    Concerning corporate leadership, a Wall Street Journal editorial conveyed a lack of confidence in women in the statement that "[m]ale directors are simply afraid to take an unnecessary risk by selecting a woman" (Dobryznyski, 2006, p.A16). In addition, consider editorial writer Maureen Dowd's New York Times commentary on Katie Couric's ascension as the first female network evening news ...

  12. Women in Top Leadership Positions

    However, women still have comparatively very few representations in top leadership positions. For instance, research on executive officers who are in Fortune 500 companies found that women only held 13.5% of the positions and in top earner jobs only 6.3% were women. Companies that have at least three women as executive officers were less than ...

  13. Female leadership: Effectiveness and perception

    Introduction Women have made progress in many social and economic spheres but they are still heavily underrepresented in leadership roles. In 2020, women held around 23-25% of the seats in the U.S. Congress and in the national Parliaments of many European countries (USA 27.5%, France 39.5%, UK 33.9%, Italy 35.7%, Germany 31.2%) 1.

  14. Gender Differences in Leadership Styles Opinion Essay

    Women are transformative leaders and they greatly focus on the interest of their subordinates. Men are more demanding, commanding and punishment-oriented. Transactional leadership theory involves leaders who believe that followers are encouraged through punishment or rewards.

  15. Women, Power & Leadership

    Despite these developments, women ambitious for leadership still face formidable obstacles: primary if not sole responsibility for childcare and homemaking; the lack of family-friendly policies in most workplaces; gender stereotypes perpetuated in popular culture; and in some parts of the world, laws and practices that deny women education or op...

  16. Female Leadership Style and Competence Essay (Critical Writing)

    Overview. This article researches female leadership to show that women have some advantages in typical leadership style but are disadvantaged by evaluating their competence as leaders, which is largely prejudicial, especially in male-dominated organisations.

  17. Male And Female Leadership Styles: Essay Example, 1732 words

    Female leadership style can be understood from communication style, preferred leadership structure, self-promotion and inclined leadership style. In female leadership, communication style is different from males. This is due to the cuddle hormone which means that female release an aura that makes people and her surroundings are comfortable with ...

  18. 7 Leadership Lessons Men Can Learn from Women

    Put your people ahead of yourself. Don't command; empathize. Focus on elevating others. And be humble. Although there is a great deal of public interest in ensuring more women become leaders ...

  19. Essay on Women in Leadership

    The Leadership Style of Women. Women leaders often exhibit transformational leadership styles, focusing on collaboration, empathy, and communication. They tend to encourage participation, share power and information, and aim to enhance the self-worth of their followers. This style of leadership fosters a positive work environment and boosts ...

  20. Writing an Effective Leadership Essay: Tips and Examples

    A leadership essay is a subset of college application essays that help college admissions officers understand your previous experiences as a leader. While that might seem extremely specific, it comes with the understanding that leadership looks and feels different based on the person and situation.

  21. Women and Leadership Essay Example

    Leadership is also seen as a domain that is male dominated and is directly linked to authoritarian leadership style, an attribute which women lack. In the corporate world, tokenism prevails among many of the largest companies, which endangers the value of female leaders when compared to male leaders. Most of the female leaders have lower ...

  22. Essay Sample: Comparison of Male and Female Leadership Styles

    The article "Comparison of male and female leadership styles" by Chapman (1975) evaluates the differences between men and women in leadership. The comparison employs different parameters to induce the comparison. Consequently, the author tests the hypothesis of whether there is a significant difference between male and female leadership styles.

  23. Women and Men Leadership Styles Comparison

    Introduction. Many organizations, as well as societies, are in need of different leadership styles to achieve their desired interests. The modern day feminists accuse the existence of the glass ceiling because it impedes the chances of women ascending to higher positions, but this article would be concerned with gender differences in leadership only.