Barriers for Women in Leadership Positions


Essay, 2017

7 Pages, Grade: 1.3


Excerpt

Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Women in Leadership
2.1 Status and Development
2.2 Reasons behind the Leadership Gap
2.3 Solutions for Eliminating the Leadership Gap

3. Conclusion

Bibliography

List of Figures

Fig. No. 1

Barriers of Women in Leadership Positions

1. Introduction

The lack of women in top management positions, which can be felt all across the world, pertains to one of the biggest economic challenges our fast growing international economy needs to face. Leadership is regarded as one of the most studied issues of our times: countless books and articles discuss theories and the nature of the problem.[1] Even when there have been several attempts in the past trying to overcome the gender gap, and even when women have already made progress in leadership positions, the gender gap continues to be a prevalent issue. Leaders are powerful, so when women are excluded from top leadership positions, they are denied power to make a difference in the world.

This paper thus aims to discuss the many challenges women nowadays face in taking leadership positions, including barriers related to stereotypes, cultural expectations and the choice between work and family.

Topical statistics will be shown at the beginning, followed by a brief analysis of the main reasons for continuing leadership gaps, closing with the development of concrete proposals for eliminating them.

2. Women in Leadership

2.1 Status and Development

Globally spoken, the percentage of women in senior roles is slowly growing which is illustrated in the figure below: women solely occupy 25% of senior positions worldwide in 2017 which is an increase of only 4% compared to the year 2011.[2] The catalyst even forecasts that “at this pace we won’t reach parity for decades”. Japan for instance has yet not reached its set goal of increasing women in management positions to 30% by 2020, since only 7% of senior positions were held by women in 2016.[3] Another example is the European Union: only 15% of executives and 5% of CEO’s are women among the largest companies publicly listed. Women’s representation in top management positions in the United Kingdom even declined from 21% (2016) to 19% in 2017.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Grant Thornton (Study): Women in business (2017), P. 7

The UK is therefore regarded as the second worst performing EU country, right after Germany as the worst performing EU country with regard to the leadership gap.[4]

2.2 Reasons behind the Leadership Gap

First of all, women still have their role as a mother respectively primary parent caring for children and other family members. Hence, women are the ones forced to face the challenge between balancing their job and family responsibilities at the same time. The probability that women work irregularly or part time and spend more time out of the job than men is very high.[5]

Nonetheless, there exist females who cannot identify with the aforementioned “family orientated perspective”. Even though, a whole category of women suffer under generalizations since “employers may assume that women's caregiving commitments make them inappropriate candidates for demanding jobs.” It is proven that under the aforementioned circumstances, women's individual performance and self-related cognitions may be negatively affected[6]. Stereotypes make it therefore even more difficult for women to access or stay in management positions.

Moreover, leadership has carried the belief that men are the better leaders, leadership is often valued under the notion of masculinity.[7] According to Mrs. Werhane, women “[…] placed values at the center of their businesses […]. Mistakes were regarded as learning and passion was seen […] as a strength. Asking for help was respected, since every business needs more intelligence than any one person can provide.”. The author underlined in its book that female leadership styles are different compared to the typical men’s “military command-and-control style of leadership” but definitely not less successful.[8]

2.3 Solutions for Eliminating the Leadership Gap

As a starting point, the imbalance between job and family responsibilities that are mostly faced by women may be reduced on the one hand if companies consider more flexible working conditions regarding working hours and places that comply with family caretaking responsibilities.

On the other hand, the society should become aware that leadership is something which can be taught and learned, for instance through leadership programs. Even when it is proven that women lead differently from men, these differences in leading should be not viewed as weakness but as a strength especially companies may profit from.[9] Women should be more willing to attend leadership trainings and workshops in order to receive more self-confidence in their abilities, build a stronger network and to overcome specific doubts holding them away from entering management positions. Employers should as well attend leadership workshops to become more open-minded and to overcome possible stereotypes by presenting career paths of successful women in the past which might eliminate the prejudice that successful occupational career paths must not have any interruptions. Reality shows that 44% of the women in executive positions have taken a leave of absence from work at least once.[10] The study of gender diversity by Noland, Moran & Kotschwar (2016) underlined the women’s contribution to the firm’s performance since they found out that “for profitable firms, a move from no female leaders to 30 percent representation is associated with a 15 percent increase in the net revenue margin.”.[11] Not only should this aspect be realized by employers, but also considered when making future plans regarding job allocations among gender in management positions.

3. Conclusion

The achievement of gender equality for women in leadership positions is a matter of fairness and has captured the attention of the whole world. Seen from the current state, more women than men are still excluded from leadership - even if there have already been several attempts to overcome this gender gap in the past.[12] Despite stereotypes, the concept of leadership is not inherently masculine, there are many ways to lead successfully. Having more women in leadership in the future requires not only women to become more active but as well multiple classes of society: individuals, families, educational institutions, employers and policymakers. To conclude, consistently showing successful role models as well as profitable outcomes of having women in leadership to the participants can have the potential to make a positive and meaningful difference in the future.[13] Above all, the most progressive organizations offer flexible schedules as default, and understand that a short career break is in most cases temporary, not permanent.

Bibliography

AAUW Study (2016): Barriers and Bias. The Status of Women in Leadership. American Association of University Women. Washington.

Catalyst (2017): Women in Management. Online. http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-management Last retrieved: 2nd July, 2017

Economia (2017): Number of women in senior business roles declining. Online. http://economia.icaew.com/en/news/march-2017/number-of-women-in-senior-business-roles-declining. Last retrieved: 2nd July, 2017.

Huffpost (2016): The Status of Women in Leadership Positions, According to an AAUW Study. Online. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/womenas-ilab/the-status-of-women-in-le_b_10842506.html Last retrieved: 2nd July, 2017.

Kiamba, J. M. (2008): Women and Leadership Positions. Social and Cultural Barriers to Success. In: Wagadu Volume 6 Winter.

Klenke, K. (2011): Women in Leadership. Contextual Dynamics and Boundaries. Emerald Group Publishing.

Latu, I. (2015): The Effects of Stereotypes of Women’s Performance in Male-Dominated Hierarchies: Stereotype Threat Activation and Reduction Through Role Models. In: K. Faniko, F. Lorenzi-Cioldi, O. Sarrasin, E. Mayor (Eds.), Men and women in social hierarchies. London: Routlege.

Noland, M.; Moran, T; Kotschwar, B. (2016): Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey. Working Paper Series. Peterson Institute for International Economics.

O’Connor, K. (2010): Gender and Women’s Leadership. A Reference Handbook, Band 1.

Sociovision, S.; Wippermann, C. (2010): Women in Executive Positions. Barriers and Bridges. In: Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Thornton, G. (2017): Women in business. Study .

Werhane, P.H. (2007): Women in Business: The Changing Face of Leadership. Westport: Praeger Publishers.

[...]


[1] Cf. Klenke, K. (2011): Women in Leadership. Contextual Dynamics and Boundaries. P. 3

[2] Cf. Thornton, G. (2017): Women in business. P. 5

[3] Catalyst (2017): Women in Management. Online

[4] Cf. Economia (2017): Number of women in senior business roles declining. Online

[5] Cf. AAUW (2016): Barriers and Bias. The Status of Women in Leadership. P. 21

[6] Cf. Latu, I.: The Effects of Stereotypes of Women’s Performance in Male-Dominated Hierarchies: Stereotype Threat Activation and Reduction Through Role Models. P. 6

[7] Cf. Kiamba, J. M. (2008): Women and Leadership Positions. Social and Cultural Barriers to Success. P. 8

[8] Werhane, P.H. (2007): Women in Business: The Changing Face of Leadership. P. xii

[9] Cf. Kiamba, J. M. (2008): Women and Leadership Positions. Social and Cultural Barriers to Success. P. 8

[10] Cf. Sociovision, S.; Wippermann, C. (2010): Women in Executive Positions. Barriers and Bridges. P. 30

[11] Noland, M.; Moran, T; Kotschwar, B. (2016): Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey.

[12] Cf. O’Connor, K. (2010): Gender and Women’s Leadership. P. 22

[13] Cf. Huffpost (2016): The Status of Women in Leadership Positions, According to an AAUW Study. Online

Excerpt out of 7 pages

Details

Title
Barriers for Women in Leadership Positions
College
University of Frankfurt (Main)
Grade
1.3
Author
Year
2017
Pages
7
Catalog Number
V428133
ISBN (eBook)
9783668725171
File size
538 KB
Language
English
Tags
Business, Women in Leadership
Quote paper
Julia- Anna Hillenbrand (Author), 2017, Barriers for Women in Leadership Positions, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/428133

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