Think Leader – Think Female
Think manager, think male. The notion that only males possessed the qualities for a manager was first publicized in the 1970s by Dr. Virginia Schein. More than half a century later research regularly reminds us that people still think manager – think male. This is so even though study after study shows that most of the qualities employees find attractive in a leader are commonly associated with female leaders, and just as many studies show that women and men are equally effective as leaders. But, none of this matters, if men are overwhelming selected for positions of leadership because when people think leader they reflexively think man.
It’s amazing how strong the forces have been to perpetuate the thought that managers are men. Women have so many inherently amazing qualities to lead, but they have been discounted and even denigrated just because women are not thought of as leaders. Men are assertive, women with the same qualities are described with the B word. Men are decisive, women are dictators. He takes charge, she’s a ball breaker. He’s a family man, she’s taken the Mommy track. He’s perceptive, she’s sensitive. He develops talent, she’s a nurturer. He’s a risk taker, she’s reckless. He’s a good communicator, she never shuts up. He’s competent and this makes him likable. She’s competent, and this makes her unlikable.
With all this negativity directed toward women in the workplace, it’s no wonder so many are opting to stay at home after graduating from college and then spending time in the labor force. Most young women come into the workforce and think they will encounter a meritocracy that allows them to rise to the top. Older women are no longer naïve. Once realities set in that in spite of legislation and endless commitments to equality women face discrimination in the workplace, disillusionment sets in too.
This has to end. Women have so much to offer. Studies show that more women in leadership leads to better financial performance, more innovation, higher qualities of life, less conflict, and less racism. Women have demonstrated that they are inherently better at building relationships, they are better listeners, they have higher levels of honesty and integrity, they are better executors, they are less hierarchical, less aggressive, and they are generally better people persons. Women have qualities that can make them superior leaders.
It is time for people to think leader and to think female too. Women are equal to the job of leading, and they can be made more equal with a little work. Being more equal is how bosses will come to see women as equal to the job and give them some well-earned promotions and the world can get on with having the benefits of having an equal mix of men and women in senior positions of leadership. That’s the goal of this book.
Ladies, it is our time to lead. Let’s do it right.
Before this is published, you can read more about this topic on my blog posts here, especially these:
- To achieve the IWD theme of gender equality, focus on gender equality in leadership
- Women in Leadership: A Reading List
- Less Death and Gender Bias – Why we need more Women in STEM
Interested in learning more? Join the Women’s Leadership Academy LinkedIn Group today!