Leadership - Does Gender Matter

Topics: Leadership, Management, Fortune 500 Pages: 6 (1736 words) Published: July 2, 2013

Final Paper

MGMT 605 – Leadership

When it Comes to Leadership, Does Gender Matter?

Does gender affect the ability of an individual to become an effective leader? Some researchers believe that effective leaders are just born while others believe that effective leadership can be learned. But few of these researchers discuss the difference that gender may make in becoming good leaders. When we take a look back through history, we can see that the evaluation of women leaders was slow. Today, only 2.4 percent (Gettings, Johnson, Brunner, & Frantz, 2009) of the Fortune 500 Company's are lead by women which is an increase from the 1.2 percent (www.money.cnn.com) of female Chief Executive Officers in 2002. The gender differences in the corporate world posses several issues for the Human Resource Managers such as management style differences, pay equity, promotion fairness, and work-life balance.

Women began entering the workforce in the late 1800s. During that time, women were employed in what society considered female specific careers such as teachers, nurses, and seamstresses and women made up a very small portion of the workforce. This all changed with the on-set of World War II. While the men left to fulfill their military obligations, women stepped up to the plate and filled positions in industrial factories across the nation doing jobs typically performed by men. Following World War II, many females continued to work and over the decades have set career aspirations which have led them to the top. As time went on, it became obvious that the gender differences in the work place required Human Resource Management intervention.

Historically, the workplace was predominantly masculine when it came to organizational theory. Organizations were structured on centralized authority, specialization and expertise, and division of labor. Aggressive and dominating leadership styles became less popular among organizations. The era of masculine leadership styles then gave way to the newly desired "feminine way" (Lowen, 2007) of leading. In the late 1900s, organizations became more feminine in nature utilizing concepts such as delegation of authority, collaboration, and empowerment. In addition, interpersonal relations became a focus for organizations and such things as trust, openness and concern for the whole person kicked off the "feminization of leadership" (Frankel, 2007) and in 1963 the Equal Pay Act was created which mandated equal pay, regardless of gender, for workers performing the same job. This became extremely important as women began to hold top level positions within organizations.

Women possess many gender specific qualities and characteristics which enhance their leader effectiveness in today's "feminized leadership." According to a study conducted by Caliper, a Princeton based management consulting group, women leaders are more empathic, flexible and possess stronger interpersonal skills. The strong interpersonal skills of women enable them to be objective in taking in information from all sides and then take this information and weighing the concerns and objectives of their people. Empathy and genuine concern make subordinates feel valued, supported, and understood. In addition, this same study noted that women were able to be more persuasive and assertive in taking risks as compared to their male counter parts. This often leads to women coming up with more innovative solutions to problems, and ultimately, getting things accomplished. Many studies conducted across the country within various businesses have concluded that women executives are rated higher than men in the areas of producing high quality work, setting and achieving goals, and mentoring subordinates (Sharpe, 2000). These studies also found that women were not as concerned with self-interest as men and did not accomplish tasks or achieve goals based on...

References: Caliper Corporation. (2005). The Qualities that Distinguish
Women Leaders
Frankel, Lois. (2007). See Jane Lead- 99 Ways for Women to
Take Charge at Work and in Life
(2009). Wonder Woman. Retrieved on 4 June 2009 from
Lowen, Linda. (2007). Qualities of Women Leaders. Retrieved
on 14 April 2008 from http://womenissues.about.com/od/
Northouse, P. G. (2007). Leadership: Theory and Practice.
Morris, Betsy. Trophy Husbands. Fortune Magazine. (October,
Stites, Janet. Equal pay for the sexes. HR Magazine. (May,
(December, 2007). Retrieved on 31 March 2008 from
Women CEOs for Fortune 500 Company 's. (2007, April) CNN Money.
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