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Women Leaders - get over the hype
The popular mainstream media would have us believe that female leaders are not only as good as male leaders but better. They’re smarter, more caring and less aggressive. Almost every publication about women leaders you read or hear in the media along with most politicians’ public statements say that women leaders are THE future for society. What surprises me is how persistent this “view” is in society. Most silly trends come and go within a few years but this one has lasted for decades now and people just aren't getting bored with it.
So why do I think it’s nonsense? Because it’s the same as saying blue-eyed people have special leadership qualities. Sorry but you so aren’t going to convince me that women can do anything job related better than men BECAUSE OF THEIR GENDER. The same goes the other way around unless it's a job that requires certain physical characteristics. Men and women are just people, no more and no less. Of course, the average woman is likely to differ from the average man and that might manifest itself in different strengths and weaknesses. But averages of one half of the population compared with the other half don’t make very good points for comparison. It says nothing about you or me as individuals but that is exactly what counts when you’re evaluated by an employer for your abilities. The last thing you want is to have your entire gender projected onto you by someone who’s supposed to judge your employability objectively.
Popular Myths about Women Leaders
- Women leaders are a new phenomenon. No, It’s just sold to us as something new. The past may have only seen few women leaders but they certainly did exist throughout history.
- Men typically have a problem with women leaders. Everyone has a problem with leaders and authority and it has nothing to do with gender. It’s natural for subordinates to have a subconscious resentment towards their superiors. In fact I’ve read a study a while back that shows that women leaders are more often in conflict with female subordinates than male. I can believe that.
- Male leaders are more
aggressive than female leaders. This is a big one. I really wonder where
some of these myths come from. I don’t know of any studies that go into
this but I think most of us can confirm that there’s every bit as much
conflict among women leaders as there is among male leaders. Think about it, becoming a CEO requires a lot of hard work along with a necessary dose of ambition and aggression. That's the nature of leadership. You don't get there by being nice and submissive and relying only on your sweet smile. If you're not willing to do a bit of elbowing your way up, then you'll be pushed out of the way by others who are - male or female. No, men did NOT make it that way. It's a natural and logical consequence of the competitive work places. In female dominated competitive environments it is just as cut throat and ruthless. If you don't believe me, take a look at what goes on between the participants of beauty contests. Men didn't invent aggressive behavior, it is what you get when more people want something than can be accommodated.
- Women leaders are more risk
averse than men. Actually this is true but what’s not true is that
it’s necessarily a good trait. It depends on the circumstances. To get
ahead, taking risks is often necessary. Anyone who’s been in a competitive
environment can assure you that playing it safe won't harm you but it will also not get you very far.
It’s not about taking risks or not. It’s about weighing out the
reward/risk ratio. I.e. “Is it worth the risk?”. So being risk averse is
sometimes good, sometimes not. The bottom line is that you have to know
when to take what risks and when to play it safe. After that, clever people also work out the odds. For example, playing the lottery is not a sensible risk to take even though the risk is small (the price of a ticket) and the potential reward is huge (the jackpot). It's the odds that make it a bad choice. The chances of winning are so low that it still becomes a losing game.
So I hope I’ve cleared up a few misunderstandings about women leaders. Just think of women as people. That’s all we really want and anyone who wants more, doesn’t belong in a leadership position anyway.
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