Gender and leadership has always been a hotly debated topic in the
As much as women and men strive to be equal in the
workplace and society in general, it is impossible to deny the fact
that men and women are fundamentally different. Of course, this difference extends beyond the physical.
While men and women are equally intelligent and capable, they traditionally have
different ways of dealing with people and therefore different leadership styles.
At times, leadership styles were purely stereotypical when it came to
expected to be aggressive, heavy handed and operate with autocratic methods.
Women ware expected to be more caring and democratic.
However, as times have changed, so has corporate America. There is less division
among genders and new styles of leadership have arisen that allow men to break
out of their stereotypical roles and allows women to flourish in management.
Transformational leadership is one such example.
Many organizations today
have taken on this highly effective style. Women seem to be naturally adept at
his type of leadership so many opportunities have opened up for them in
particular. However, transformational leadership roles are not confined to women.
Men also enjoy being able to lead in a way that encourages natural support
rather than being heavy handed.
In society in general today, gender roles
are blurring. Tasks that once were considered "women's work" are now performed
by men. Some men choose to stay home and raise the kids, be the "soccer mom,"
and take responsibility for maintaining the home. As gender roles become more
relaxed and accepted as normal, they transfer to the workplace.
Leadership roles are changing as a result. It is no longer rare to see women
in management roles and it's because they are capable and effective, not because
it’s the trendy thing to do. However, we are still far from complete gender
equality when it comes to corporate leadership.
You'll come across all
kinds of opinions and studies on the matter. For everyone who says women are
better natural leaders, you'll find someone else who says men are better.
look at the traits of the genders, you probably associate women with being
nurturing and fair. You may think of men as being authoritative and unyielding.
But isn't this just stereotypical thinking?
There are certainly plenty
of nurturing men and aggressive women. The roles of men and women are ever
changing and a wise company will be looking towards the future rather than being
locked in to old ways of thinking about gender and leadership roles. To pass
over a capable employee simply because she is female, or to promote a male
because he is expected to be aggressive, is no longer a good approach. People
don't always live up to their stereotypes and that is proven to be true over and
over when looking at leadership/gender.
Leadership and gender is a
topic every corporation needs to take seriously. Gender discrimination is
illegal but it still exists even if done covertly.
This causes some women to be
passed over for leadership roles or causes conflict when they are chosen. Women
have their own unique challenges when they take on a leadership role in certain
In others, like the nursing field, female leaders are
considered norm. In predominantly male occupations, women may face challenge.
But the reverse is also true. It seems like gender and roles in leadership seem to
fit particular occupations. The same could be said for gender and leadership
Broadly speaking, women tend to excel in participatory leadership
styles while men tend to excel in transactional leadership roles. To maximize
employee satisfaction and productivity, a corporation may do well to choose a
leader based upon his or her own individual style rather than trying to force
anyone into a stereotypical gender role.
When it comes to leadership and
gender, you can't say that any one gender is better
suited than the other.
One thing the last few decades has taught us is that men
and women are equally capable. People should be judged on their individual
ability, gender aside. Corporate American should be aware though of the
inequities that exist and work towards completely eliminating the glass ceiling
so women are always given equal consideration as their male counterparts when it
comes to climbing the corporate ladder.
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