1. Women In Leadership – Introduction

Women play multiple roles in a society. Women have started entering the erstwhile male dominated leadership positions. As result of increasing globalization and the opening of new markets in developing countries, and above all, the world, we are witnessing a new class of women leaders. This tutorial deals at length with Women in Leadership. It has been divided into several important chapters, each discussing a significant aspect of women leadership.

  • Audience

This otsira.com is useful for management students and professionals, specially those who work towards promoting women leadership in the world. The otsira.com will help its readers understand the importance of women leadership in every sphere of life.

  • Prerequisites

The readers need to have a basic idea about what constitutes leadership. They are expected to have an understanding on who leads the importance of women in society and in nation building. Women are gradually making their leadership presence felt in entrepreneurship, administration, education, engineering, health, etc. at regional, national, and global levels. Women are now resolved to break the traditional glass ceiling that barred them from entering leadership positions even if they possessed requisite skills and talent to occupy them.

  • What is Leadership?

Every organizations needs a leader, irrespective of its size and functions. A leaderless organization is a muddle of men and machine, a country without leadership is anarchy, a society without leadership
is a violent and dangerous place to live. Then, what is the meaning of leadership? What constitutes leadership?
A leader is a person who influences and encourage a group of people to work towards the realization of goals. The hallmark of leadership is the capacity to influence other towards  accomplishing goals and towards betterment. As Chester Barnard sums it up, leadership is the ability of a superior to influence the behavior of a subordinates or group and persuades them to follow a particular course of action.

– Leadership is not gender-specific. It is a set of leadership qualities inherent or cultivated in person themselves into great leaders with mass following. Leaders can be either men or women.
Although leadership skills are acquired and shown by both men and women, there exists certain differences in the basic traits and qualities possessed by men and women leaders. Men and women
mostly show distinctly different styles of leadership.

  • Characteristics of Women Leadership

In this session, we have highlighted some of the common characteristic features of women leaders-

– Transformational Leadership Style  

Women leaders are some transformational than men leaders. They function as a role model of their subordinates. They inspire their team and spend a lot of time coaching their team. They care a lot about their personal development. Women leaders emphasize teamwork and authentic communication as
key to success. For most women leaders. Leadership is not meant only for accomplishing organizational goals but for transforming their followers into better people.

– Task-Focused  

Women leaders are invariably focused on completion of tasks assigned within deadlines. From an operational point, completing day-to-day tasks are necessary to ensure smooth functioning of the company.

– Prefer to Work in Collegial Atmosphere

Women leaders generally prefer leading and creating flat organizational structures that enables all to work in a collegial atmosphere interpedently. Flat organizational structure overlooks the experience and knowledge of seasoned employees and the manger. Women leaders usually are critical of hierarchical structure of organization.

– Promote Cooperation and Collaboration

To work in collaboration with others is a typical feminine characteristic. Women leaders always promote cooperation and collaboration amongst the team members. In the case, all the members of the team need to be clear of their roles and responsibilities, otherwise, it results in redundant work.

  • Women in Leadership- Importance

Any institution, whether it is society or organization, in the present century cannot function effectively without women’s equal participation in leadership activities. Women creates a perspective that brings to competition and collaboration to organizations and teams.
In today’s world, organizations that are led by inclusive leadership teams make effective decisions that deliver better result. In the twenty-first century, the essential qualities required to lead include the
ability to collaborate, connect, empathize and communicate. All these qualities are feminine in nature and can help build a more sustainable future.
Many statistics show that companies led by women have better financial results. Leadership by women is vital to increase the pace of societal transformation at home are likely to provide an integrated view of work and family, resulting in an engaged and promising personal and professional future.
Gender parity in leadership is important because true progress cannot happen without a diversity of perspective in leadership roles.

2. Women in Leadership- Benefits

Women constitute half of the working-age population in the world. Companies led by women seem to have traditionally fared better than of financial crisis. A study carried out by pew research enter on women and leadership suggest that there is little differences between men and women in key leadership traits such as the ability to innovate and intelligence, while many observe that they are even better than men when it comes to being compassionate and organized.
Benefits of women leadership in different sectors are manifold and they are as significant as those from male leadership. Women leadership is found to be good for financial health of an organization.
Organizations having females as board members show significantly better financial performance than those having low female representation.
Better financial health of the organization leads to better job opportunities, higher productivity, and more growth and development. Various studies have found that women are equipped with better relationship building skills. They also found at good at inspiring and motivating others.

3. Women in Leadership- Barriers

It is established that women leadership has distinct benefits and women leaders are endowed with certain natural qualities such as collaboration, empathy, and considerations which have become essential ingredients in present leadership trend. However, the subtle gender bias that still persists in the society, community, families, and organizations stand barrier to women leadership.

Efforts have been made by governments, corporate houses, and social organizations to enable women to give meaning and recognition to their innate leadership qualities and establish themselves as active leaders in the society. It will help build a progressive and developed human society. However, several barriers still persist that hinder the growth of women into independent leaders. Let us discuss some significant barriers to women leadership in the present time

  • Professional Competency

Professional competency refers to possessing abilities and skills by a person to discharge
professionals’ duties and responsibilities as efficiently and effectively as possible. The nature and characteristics of such abilities and skills vary profession to profession.
A number of researches indicate that women and men managers don’t differ largely in the competencies they possess. However, stereotypical view of gender role considers women less compete that women. As a result, there exists a gender gap in the assessment of male and female employees. There are instances of less pay for women than that of the men for the same work and equal hour. Cultural biases and social arrangement overrate men and underrate women. In order to ascertain the
criteria for common competencies for leadership positions, we need to value both the transformational leaderships of women and transformational leaderships of men. Studies have found that young women are less achieving than young men in technical subjects and areas. Subtle gender bias that persists in organizations and in society upset the learning cycle for acquiring new skills and expertise for women after becoming leaders.
Traditional leadership education is not sufficient to help women become successful after assuming leadership positions. Even women rate other women as incompetent. Women are studied to have lower self-confidence, dominance and need for achievement. These findings, though not fully established, create a common assumption that women are less competent than men.
However, recent studies conducted by management institutions and corporate houses reveal that the gender of the leader is less important than the role and responsibilities of the leader’s position. There appears to be little difference between men and women leaders in their core competencies such as leading and motivating, mentoring and coaching, managing finances, building teamwork, communicating to employees conducting appraisals, managing resources, etc.

  • Gender Disparity

Gender disparity is based on the premises that women and men are unequal and women are less powerful than men. Gender disparity or gender inequality has been a barrier to women leadership since ancient times. It still remains a major barrier to empowerment of women and development of women
leadership.

  • Maintaining Work-life Balance

Maintaining work-life balance is also a great barrier to women leadership. Women are still attending
the bulk of domestic and child care responsibilities at home, even when both spouses are full-time employees. Women in this situation find themselves in dilemma as to how to maintain a perfect
balance between home and workplace demands. Maintaining work-life balance is one of the most complex barriers to women leadership.
Women professionals find it quite stressful while trying to balance motherhood and working outside home. The changing nature of work environment especially at the top of the hierarchy that demand round-the-clock work schedule represent an impasse to many women who wish to extend life outside
the workplace.

Further, when the women professionals climb the ladder of their rising career and as their family grows, their responsibilities multiply. Time spent in the office continues to be seen as a powerful indicator of work commitment that impact on family life, health, and productivity of men and women at work. Most employees and businesses have put in place flexible work initiatives so as to attract talented women to the jobs.
However, choosing flexibility suggest a lesser engagement with the workforce. Flexibility options are not meeting the needs of senior female talents. Yet, many successful women leaders have both a good family and an enviable career graph. They have not scarified either.
Apart from the above barriers to women leadership, there are others society-culture-specific impediments to women progress into leadership positions. There is need for inspire women to vie for leadership positions and continue to lead independently.

4. Women in leadership-Enables

To promote women leadership, countries and organizations need to create a congenial environment so as to facilitate entry of women into mainstream positions. The factors and conditions which ensure smooth journey for a woman to pursue her chosen career and enable her to reach the top are called enablers.
There are a number of enables that can move on the right track to achieve their goals. They are, for instance, a supportive family, education, secure social environment, equal employment opportunity, women-friendly house policies of business organizations and public policies.
An enabling socio-cultural, political and business environment is a sine qua non for women occupying leadership positions in the society. What creates an enabling environment for women? Which factors are necessary to enables women factor are necessary to enable women to rise to become true leaders?

  • Supportive family

Family as the basic social institution has profound influences on individuals. As the seat of the very first integration of individuals into social life, families are the major source of their members’ basic personal and social identity, and capacity for love and togetherness.
A supportive family is a great enabler for women leadership. An individuals physical, emotional and psychological development takes shape first in his/her family. An individual is what a family creates his/her.

▪ As a source of Inspiration- It is the family that inspires an individual to bring out the best in him. Unless the family in which a girl is born provides her the required support, both moral and monetary, she finds it up most difficult to shape her career as per her will and determination. Many women leaders are nipped in the bud before they come to the forefront. Their family stands on her way to the top.

▪ As an effective enabler- A supportive family helps women members to bring out the best in them. It enables them to hone their talent in the right perspective. When families nurture a positive attitude towards women members and provide them with moral and economic assistance at par with male members, they become an effective enables for promoting women to leadership positions.

▪ Family as an influencing factor- It is found that most of the successful women leaders in the world are products of their own family have helped them arise to top positions. By providing girls, and women the required space, the family enables them to bring their inherent leadership qualities to the foreground

▪ As an empowering social institution- A suppurative family not only inspires a female member but also empowers her by providing moral, physical, and monetary support. Being empowered, she is spurred to activities to succeed in becoming a leader. Thus, family is the first social institution that empowers women to become what they intend to be. A supportive family, therefore, provides the basic platform to women to pursue their career goals and establishes themselves as leaders.

  • Good Education

Education is a great liberator. It liberates women from the shackles of age-old superstitions, traditions, and belief that exist in a society. It is rightly said, if you educate a man you educate an individual, however, if you educate a woman you educate a whole family.

Education is helps women acquire knowledge, understand gender relations, develop a sense of self-worth, a belief in their ability, etc. it enables them to bring out the best in them and make to bring out the best in them and make them accepted as a mass leader.

Education enables women free themselves from the bondage of ignorance and orthodox beliefs, social evils, gender  discrimination, and domestic as well as social violence.

It creates in them fortitude and self-confidence to fight against every odd on their way to achieve success in life.

▪ It enlightens them about the larger world and world views. It also acquaints them with women leaders of difficult countries and their leadership styles. It exposes them to the world and helps
them know the conditions of women in different countries and different societies.

Good education brings out the inherent leadership in women and enables them to establish themselves as great leaders.

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