Can women Lead?
In a meta analysis comparing the effectiveness of female and male leaders,
overall both were equally effective. However, there were gender differences
such that each gender were more effective in leadership roles that were
congruent with their gender.
Thus, women were less effective to the extent that
the leadership role was masculinized.
For example, women were less effective than men
in military positions but more effective in
education, government, and social service
Additionally, women were substantially more effective in middle
management where interpersonal skills are highly valued.
In these roles women were also more likely to utilize Transformational
Leadership Styles, Contingent Reward Systems, and other styles that are
associated with contemporary notions of effective leadership.
“ In government, in business, and in the
professions there may be a day when
women will be looked upon as persons.
We are, however, far from that day as
yet.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, 1940
Women occupy more than half of all management and
professional positions and make up half of the labor
force, but are still underrepresented in upper echelons of
America's corporate and political systems.
The invisible barrier preventing women
from ascending into elite leadership
positions is referred to as ”The Glass
While this typically is used to reference
the disparity of gender in leadership
positions it is also important to recognize
that this can also apply to other non-
dominant groups such as ethnic and racial
By continually working to disavow the glass ceiling we
will gradually fulfill the promise of equal opportunity by
allowing everyone the possibility of taking on leadership
Underrepresentation of women in high level leadership
positions revolve around 3 types of explanations:
1. Human Capital
2. Gender Differences
Human Capital Differences
Domestic and child rearing expectations impose an added
burden to women climbing the leadership ladder
In order to combat this, some women choose not to marry or
have children. Others choose to become “Super Women” and
attempt to excel in every role. Still others choose part time
employment to juggle work-home conflicts.
Empirical Research indicates that women are less likely to promote
themselves for leadership positions than men and women are more likely to
take on “informal roles” which use terms such as Facilitator or Organizer
instead of Leader.
A prominent explanation is “Gender Bias” stemming from stereotyped
expectations that women take care and men take charge.
According to role congruity theory, the agentic qualities thought necessary
for leaders are incompatible with the communal qualities stereotypically
associated with women.
It is clear that women in leadership roles are more than capable to
excel and often assist their organizations in achieving by diligently
working to bring out the best from others to be successful as a team
but there is still 33% missing in the career success equation for
That 33% is the “Business Strategic Financial Acumen”
In order to push through the glass ceiling women must Prove Business
Acumen, Set a Strategic Acumen and Track Record, and Display Actions
based on Financial Acumen.
Additionally, Boards must set proportional success pools and examine the
mindset they have on gender and intentionally set a level playing field for