Women in Leadership Roles

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INTRODUCTION
More and more women are rising to the leadership challenge, even in some of the most male-dominated industries. The increase in the number of women attending college, the increasing number of women in the workplace or starting their own business has demonstrated to men who own businesses that women can be both managers and mothers, thus showing their male counterpart that women can in fact "do it all". In this paper the history of women in the workforce will be outlined, as well as the challenges they face. The changing attitudes towards women taking over family businesses will be looked at briefly, how women lead in comparison to how men lead, and a comparison of their leadership style will also be discussed. HISTORY AND THE CHALLENGES WOMEN FACE

A number of events have occurred over the last twenty-five years or so that have resulted in the rise of the female in the working world. Beginning in the mid-1970's, women began going to business school and earning their Master's of Business Administration degrees and, as a result, building on that education and gaining work experience. The days of the one income family are over. Females need to be armed with college degrees to be a contributor to this century's model of the family unit and in this time of "education inflation", the demand for higher education is growing at a staggering rate. In the corporate sector, the generation of women who entered the corporate world two to three decades ago has set the pace now followed by ever-growing numbers of women. The great strides women are making in the work force can be attributed to numerous factors including the passage of equal employment opportunity legislation's, modifications in job requirements, more females on the buying side, elevated educational achievements by females, more women in business schools, the huge percentage of female business school graduates with androgynous orientations, and the willingness of many young women to postpone marriage and child-bearing. While women continue to make progressive strides toward equality, few have risen to the highest positions-leading companies to the new millennium. Fortunately, women can now demand equal treatment in their respective organizations as a result of the aforementioned changes in history. Many companies have policies in place that require equality at work and punishment for those who do not adhere to such policies. Women who seek to enter management level positions fight against stereotypes, discrimination, and myths, not to mention the fight to balance work and family. They have also been overwhelmed by unfamiliar products, skeptical clients or customers, guy talk, a scarcity of female associates and little or no empathy. Sheila Wellington, President of Catalyst, a non-profit organization for the advancement of women to corporate and professional leadership, said in a speech on October 23, 1996 to the Economic Club of Detroit in Detroit Michigan: "Let me be clear, I believe that most obstacles to women's advancement to the top are not intentional, they are a result of unexamined assumptions about women's career interests and of policies and practices that have existed unquestioned over time in the corporate culture. With real commitment to change, the situation is remediable. Perhaps, the "glass ceiling" that women are under is not the intent of their male counterparts. I believe that it is the socialization of men and women in our society that has lead to this imbalance in the work force. But, somewhere along the line, men have to realize and acknowledge the socialization they have endured is creating discomfort among their female colleagues. TAKING OVER THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Twenty years ago there was no place for women in most family businesses (Nelton, 1999). If they did have a position, it was presumably as secretary, assistant, or some other behind-the-scenes role. The traditional successor to the family business was the first-born son...
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