- Politics and Social Issues
Are Men Running Scared With Gender Equality?
Gender Benders: Women in Leadership Positions Are Strong!
Women Prove They Have What it takes to Perform Just as Well as Men in the Workplace!
Gender equality has long been the subject of intense debate in Western countries. There is no doubt that social culture has shifted from a strictly patriarchal paradigm to one that is gradually pivoting towards gender equality. This is especially true across Europe, Australasia, the United States and Canada, but there is room for improvement in other countries and regions. The Middle East and Africa remain the most repressive regions in the world for women and minorities, with a chauvinistic structure governing most every aspect of the social, economic and political arena. Women in these regions are subject to discriminatory practices in most every facet of their daily lives. Our focus in this case study will be on progressive countries where gender equality is an intractable component of the social fabric. The inherent characteristics of women allow them to approach challenges from a unique perspective.
Do Women Add Value to the Corporate World?
Multiple case studies have been conducted over the years and all of them are definitive in their assessment of women’s contribution to the corporate world. In short, women are invaluable for their insights, intelligence, problem-solving techniques, management and leadership abilities. In fact, a recent study conducted by a bestselling author in the New York Times - John Gerzema - concluded that an overwhelming number of respondents would prefer to have men think more like women. Gerzema alluded to certain feminine values such as Patience, Humility, and Vulnerability that make women better candidates for successful decision-making in the work environment. There are other characteristics engendered by women that ably assist them in achieving organizational objectives, such as Flexibility, Innovation, Intuitiveness, and Empathy. It should be remembered though that men and women possess these skills, but women are more closely associated with them.
Female CEOs: Better than Men?
Gender equality is not gender superiority, nor is it gender supremacy. In societies where equality is fostered, both men and women are promoted on their merits. Both tend to display comparable levels of assiduousness, leadership and organizational effectiveness. The buzz-term for promoting females in the corporate realm is gender diversity. We are still a ways off from achieving that objective, as evidenced by the surprisingly small number of high-powered women in the corporate world. Women are actively being encouraged to apply for leadership roles and companies are increasingly looking to empower women to assume these roles within the corporate world. A series of mentoring, development and training programs are in place across the board to foster this process. The objective is the creation of a system whereby suitably-qualified women can move through the pipeline to top managerial and leadership positions.
The challenges faced by women are not necessarily related to assuming a leadership role: The more demanding issue is being taken seriously in that role. The organizational culture needs to be adaptive and receptive to these changing practices and be accommodative of women in leadership positions. The innate gender bias in society makes it difficult for many women to be taken seriously by men and other women in the corporate world. The issue is not so much one of ability or qualifications; it’s an issue of perceptions and values. There is daylight between being an effective manager and being a trusted leader. Managers rule by dint of the authority given to them, while leaders rule by way of their ability to get people to willingly follow them. An atmosphere conducive to gender equality must be fostered for a female leader to be effective at her craft. Based on current standards of operation, this female pipeline leadership system needs to be overhauled and reassessed.
Female leaders constantly have to work harder to prove themselves in an organizational culture that continues to see men as the dominant leadership icon. Female leaders must undertake a series of steps to mould themselves into effective role models. The challenges ahead of female leaders are often more daunting than they are for male leadership. There is no room for comfort zones in female leadership; it’s all about stepping away from the known into the unknown. There are ways that women are cementing their roles as leaders in the corporate world. These include being present at all important meetings; providing input on central issues, and always having a workable solution for impending challenges.
The manner in which female leaders must address stakeholders is also different: The yes-sir approach needs to be forsaken and a take-charge attitude needs to come into play. Women are now taking on challenges that dovetail with their personal values and the collective good. This obviates the attendant risks of focusing on one’s fears in favour of something bigger. Shared goals that are worked into the leadership model are more likely to foment strong female leadership. Men tend to support other men who are being considered for leadership roles; women need to break into the ‘Boys Club’ and make it their own by effecting change from within. Below is a list of some of the world’s most powerful women.
Women with Power
Obstacles to Success for Women in the Corporate World
For many women, there is a subconscious reason why success seems so elusive: Past conditioning has been recorded as a reason why success eludes many women. By having grown up in a patriarchal culture, many women unwittingly access this status quo at some level. Women tend to cite an inability to gain traction with their ideas among make co-workers. Many women feel that upper management passes them over when it comes to promotions. Oftentimes women are encouraged to assume staff roles which are more conducive to their families, thereby excluding themselves from consideration for top posts. This invisible cloak that drapes over corporate culture is known as second-generation bias. It can be combatted and defeated by recognizing it for what it is, and not allowing it to adversely affect promotion prospects. Another important aspect to consider is the scrutiny that accompanies women at the upper echelons of companies. Since there are so few female CEOs and top managers, those that do exist are constantly under the microscope. And yet, women are succeeding in a big way – in every way possible. Women in Hollywood are increasingly taking stand at fighting for gender equality; consider Emma Watson’s speech to the United Nations as a case in point:
Emma Watson at the HeForShe Campaign 2014 - Official UN Video
Women are the Economic Engines of Corporate America
The vast majority of consumer expenditure in the United States is undertaken by women. In fact, a study revealed that 85% of consumer spending is done by women. In dollars and cents, this translates into a figure between $5 trillion and $15 trillion in annual expense. The tide is certainly changing and nowadays there are increasing numbers of women in boardrooms across corporate America. While gender equality and pay equality is still a ways off, the gap is closing. SAP North America has recorded a 4% spike in females in the workforce since 2011 up to 33%, while women in leadership positions with SAP North America now number 26%. The tech sector of the U.S. is largely dominated by men, and more women are leaving this sector nowadays. In an effort to bring women into Silicon Valley and other key sectors, HR departments are embarking upon robust training and development initiatives to fill quotas in pursuit of gender equality in the workforce. Various mentorship programs and leadership programs are in the works to get women and men on board to foster an organizational culture that respects gender diversity. Partnerships with organizations with shared goals is another way that companies are closing the gender gap and creating a new culture conducive to gender diversity. Companies like Girls Who Code and TechGirlz are just two examples of Silicon Valley companies run by women. These companies are geared towards addressing gender disparities and showing that women are just as capable as men.