So many women, so few in leadership roles - why? The window of opportunity to free women and men from the confines of gender stereotypes is opening now. To take advantage of and further this change it is important to understand the history of gender roles, particularly in relation to leadership, and why the shift is happening now.Longstanding stereotypes about men being strong and assertive and women being communal, soft and understanding are key to understanding why women who are successful achievers are typically not in key leadership roles. But this begs a bigger question. Why do we think of leadership as masculine in the first place? And how does seeing leadership in this way create a blind spot for leadership done differently but with the same – or even better – results? A brief history of leadership in the 20th century begins to answer the first question. In the early 1900′s when most people were not well-educated, the “great man” theory espoused leadership by a small number of men thought to possess superior intellectual and moral capabilities. Three factors led to a shift away from this theory after World War II. First, the G.I. bill enabled more men to become well educated. At the same time the manufacturing industry in the U.S. was booming and creating a need for more managers. Finally, as college educated G.I.’s filled these roles they formed a generation of managers and leaders who shared the military’s command and control style. These factors perpetuated hierarchical organizations with cascading levels of management and the prevalence of the command and control model. In this system, most leaders were men and leadership was equated with masculine traits including the tendency to be dominant, aggressive, and individualistic, to take charge, provide answers and exert control. (1)
In the late 20th century as women took on management roles they had to learn how to survive in the command and control culture. It is a well-known phenomenon that minority group members who enter the dominant culture blend in at first and are especially likely to be seen in stereotypical terms when they are viewed as tokens. Consultants who work on diversity issues refer to the “rule of three” – the need to include at least three members of a minority group in order for their voices to be heard and to influence the dominant culture. As a result of being one or two among a peer group of men women in business roles still walk a very tight line. They live in a double bind. Women are required to demonstrate just enough masculinity – assertiveness and individualism – and to balance this with the right degree of femininity – softness and and community orientation. They receive little credit for either and are subject to criticism if they stray too much to either side. “A woman who is strong and assertive, a command and control type, is seen as difficult and bitchy, but a woman who is warm and helpful is seen as weak and incompetent,” says Carli. On the other hand when men are warm, empathic, and thoughtful they are perceived very favorably but behaving this way is seen as a bonus not a requirement. Men have more leeway and options for how to lead. Women have fewer degrees of freedom and are held to different and higher standards. As a result they have to be more conscious of everything they do, another factor that makes their challenge more difficult.
(extract from Dr Anne Perschel's must read post. Picture is mine)
Whose opinions and advice do you listen to, or ask for, about your life and business plans, decisions, problems or any other aspect of your life and business? And why those people? It is well worth giving some thought to this.
AFTER CENTURIES OF OPPRESSION, women have won the day at last, and "pulled decisively ahead [of men] by almost every measure." This is the key argument made by Hanna Rosin in a new book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women. Mainly, it turns out, she means that there are more women enrolling in and graduating from college now than there are men, and that their ranks in the business world, in the professions, and in politics are swelling: natural enough developments in an increasingly egalitarian society that has seen its male-dominated manufacturing sector decimated in recent decades. The big question for this reader is why — at the very moment when we almost have people respecting one another as equals — we would be talking about "The End" of anybody. I don't want anybody to End; I don't buy for an instant that Men are Ending, and I can't bring myself to believe that much of anyone else will, either.
Not everyone agrees with The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin's argument that the end of men is upon us. Family Inequality's Philip N.
As you can see, there has been a significant drop in the number of women who are not contributing to household income at all, from 46 percent to 18.7 percent. And there has been an increase in the percentage of women who are making money, with the biggest proportionate increases in the middle ranges--ie, between 40 and 59 percent.
But "earning 51% of the couple’s earnings doesn’t make one 'the breadwinner,' and doesn’t determine who 'wears the pants'," Cohen writes. Dominance and power requires more than 51 percent, and the graph still looks thin at the higher end of the axis, which represents the wife's income as a percentage of total.
So while the trend is toward the wife earning a higher percentage of family income, Cohen argues that the overall picture as seen in the graph above shows the role of majority breadwinner still largely belongs to men. "Maybe it’s just the feminist in me that brings out the stickler in these posts," Cohen says, "but I don’t think this shows us to be very far along on the road to female-dominance."
Our economy needs women in leadership.When women are more than tokens in leaders...
Women Don’t Need Special Help If there’s anything the data tells us about women in business these days, it’s that women are really good leaders and have all the skills they need to succeed in business. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review found that women outscored men on 12 of 16 leadership competencies. In addition, women are hard workers and results-focused and we’re good investors too. Of course, women aren’t the same as men and we operate in cultural realities that can confuse us – and the men we work with – about our capabilities. This is pointed out by data that identifies areas we can focus on to get ahead such as learning to speak up and be noticed, negotiate and ask for higher salaries and communicate more effectively and authentically. But men can benefit from these skills just as much as we can. Why do we think these are “women’s issues”?
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