Women in Strategic Leadership and Management: Identifying Concerns and Implementing Strategic Gender-Specific Leadership Development

Women in Strategic Leadership and Management: Identifying Concerns and Implementing Strategic Gender-Specific Leadership Development

Eleanor Su-Keene (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch083
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Historically, strategic leadership positions and roles have been predominately male-oriented. This comprehensive review of contemporary and historical literature shows that gendering of leadership positions and organizations affect women's leadership success. First, societal pressures and gendered roles make it difficult for women to balance work and home life. Unlike male counterparts, women are usually unable to delegate familial responsibilities making it difficult for women to obtain, maintain, and ascend leadership and managerial positions. Second, gender specific leadership styles are evaluated differently due to the perceived masculinity of both leadership positions and the organizational environment. This chapter adopts Hopkins, O'Niel, Passarelli, and Bilimoria's (2008) leadership development strategy for women by attending to seven specific developmental categories: assessment, training and education, coaching, mentoring, networking, experiential learning, and career planning. Given that effective leadership development results in organizational success, the strategies proposed is an attempt to decrease some of the issues barring women from leadership success and in turn, increase success at the organizational level.
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After more than a century of legislative advancement, progress for women in the workplace is still slow moving. Women comprise nearly 51% of the United States population, yet the percentage of women who occupy top leadership and managerial positions is disparate. On average, women still make 78 cents to every dollar earned by men (DeNavas-Walt & Proctor, 2013) and this trend holds true for women in full-time management and leadership positions (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). A study conducted by Morrison (1999) showed that nearly 200 women in progressive leadership and managerial positions said that they experienced prejudice, lonely and hostile environments, and a lack of support that inhibited their advancement through leadership ranks. As women nearly equal and in some cases exceed the number of men in the workforce, one must question the inequity that exists in managerial and leadership positions.

In 1990, Fortune magazine did a survey and found that only 19 women occupy top executive positions out of a total of nearly 4,000 positions. Nearly 25 years later that number has increased to a mere 22 women occupying CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, which accounts for only 4.4% of all CEOs (Catalyst, 2015). In the United States, women occupy less than 20% of the total congressional seats and is currently, ranked 98th in the world for the number of women involved in the country’s national legislature (Hill, 2014). This disparity is concerning given that women in politics tend to be stronger advocates for civil rights, education, health, and labor. Additionally, when nations elect women rather than men as key national leaders, economies experience significant growth in GDP (Hill, 2014). In academia, women are represented equally if not more than men in certain studies during graduate and postdoctoral training. However, fewer women fulfill academic careers (34% of full time faculty, 26% of tenured faculty, and 19% of full professors at doctoral-granting universities) and even less fulfill leadership positions (13.5% of presidents and 23.5% of provosts at 200 institutions) (Bilen-Green, Froelich, & Jacobson, 2008; Dominici, Fried, & Zeger, 2009; and Schneider, Carden, Francisco, & Jones, 2011). Clearly, formidable obstacles resulting in a “glass ceiling” exist for women that prevent access and opportunities to executive leadership and managerial positions.

Figure 1.

The percentage of women in S&P 500 companies decreases with increasing managerial and leadership position

(Adapted from Catalyst, 2015)

The marginalization of women in the workforce results in a situation where few women are able to rise into top executive positions is shown in Figure 1. Although this figure is representative of women leaders in corporate entities, it is comparable to nearly all organizations especially those with a hierarchical structure such as military, politics, and academia. In order to understand this phenomenon and strive for equal representation in these leadership positions, issues barring women from top leadership and managerial positions need to be addressed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership Style: A philosophy on how a leader functions in his or her position, influences others, and makes decision.

Leadership: A position held by a person who oversees a group, organization, etc.

Management: The act or skill of controlling and making decisions about a business, organization, etc.

Gendered: Reflecting the experience, prejudices, or orientations of one sex more than the other.

Assessment: An evaluation and judgment about one’s performance.

Leadership Development: A set of strategies that seek to improve individual’s leadership skills thus increasing their success.

Prejudice: An unfair feeling of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex, religion, etc.

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