Women's Roles in Leadership Positions

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The Dynamics of Women’s Roles in Leadership

Delora Murphy

Wingate University

Abstract

The roles of women have been evolving for the last 100 years. Many women have shattered the stereotype that a women’s role is to be in charge of the family and have become leaders in a walks of life. Women have proved that they can be effective as business and government leaders. Although there are still gender biases that can exist, it is much move covert then it was 40 years ago. Oddly enough, some of the characteristics that have been viewed as the most necessary for leadership in roles of men, those same traits were viewed as negative characteristics of women in leadership roles.

The role of the women has been evolving for many decades. In times, way before my own, a woman’s role was to be the caregiver for her family. Although women, many have sought out an education, their main lifetime focus to be to support her husband and raise her children. Many women still choose this role today, but the point is that now they are allowed to choose a specific pathway in life rather than being forced to carry out established roles. This change of women’s roles has been occurring in the United States for the last hundred years. Although this may seem like a long period of time, it is not. When roles are changed or reversed, this does not necessarily mean that everyone instantly converts to the new ideas and philosophies demonstrated by a group. Often times, there is a great deal of protest both within the changing group as well as those outside of the group. Despite the evolved roles of women in society, women still face many challenges in leadership positions. There are qualities that women possess that seem to help them rise to the top echelon of leadership positions, but there are still biases that exist that may inhibit women from reaching their goals.

Women won the right to vote in the 1920’s; however, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the “Women’s Movement” began. Granted women’s roles had been changing for 40 years prior to the Women’s Movement, it was clear that this was not a natural evolution. Many people, both men and women, challenged the idea of a woman as an independent, productive citizen. Many women were ready to be seen and valued differently, but just because a group wants to be seen differently, does not mean that that is going to happen. This is usually the pivotal moment for most movements in History. A group seeks changes that others are adverse to seeing happen. The women’s movement called for fundamental changes in the roles of women. No longer did women want to be seen as the caregiver of the home, they wanted to be seen as independent people who could make important decisions and choose their educational and professional pathways.

Today, in the United States of America, women are on a more equal footing with men in most cases: often by necessity, where women cannot complete in the workplace for jobs that were one traditionally held my men, also in light of two –parent working households. Although most career and professional opportunities are open to women in this country, there are still major discrepancies in the leadership positions that women hold. Among the US population 25 and above, 34 percent of women have obtained a Bachelor’s degree compared with 30 percent of men. Of Graduate degree’s held, women dominate that group with 39 percent of Graduate Degrees being held by men. Versus 21% percent, which are held by men. It would be appropriate after viewing these statistics, that one could assume that women hold the same, if not more, of the top leadership positions in business and politics, but this, in fact, is not the case. Forbes Magazine (2011) created and published a study with an emphasis breakdown on women’s roles in top leadership positions.

• Only 6 percent of...
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