The Real Reasons There Are So Few Women Leaders
The ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment provided equal electoral rights for female citizens of the United States. Since then, women have started participating in the political, social, scientific, and cultural life of society more actively. Their presence in governmental authorities and other branches of power guarantees the defense of female rights relatively to healthcare, education, social security and parity, and other issues critical for women. However, a great number of companies encounter female leadership reluctantly. Simultaneously, the promotion of females in political, financial, educational, scientific and other spheres is impeded. The identification of real reasons underlying a significant scarcity of females can allow incorporating serious changes in human resource planning and management. Research on benefits that companies may gain in lieu of strong female leadership can assist in reconsideration of the human resource policy.
Various statistical studies and surveys report the insufficient quantity of women in superior positions. Therefore, sociologists initiated research on the stated issue trying to determine the basis of such social imparity and factors that precipitate unequal promotion and career development of females. Sociological surveys and multiple interviews specified that unconscious biases among managers, particularly males, deficient quantity of senior positions particularly designed for females, and difficulties in balancing working and domestic responsibilities are factors underpinning the delayed career development of women. A considerable number of respondents emphasize that an insufficient educational and professional level is responsible for inappropriate or slow career advancement of females. Similar cause can trigger delays in career progression, ignoring the fact that “women presently outnumber men at university,” and their considerable number graduate from universities and colleges (Thomson, 2016). Highly educated women can be scarcely less qualified then men. Additionally, it is specified that deficient aspiration and the lack of ambitions, loyalty, confidence and stress resistance impede females’ promotion to top managers or leadership positions. The latter is a variable statement that mostly depends on woman’s age, professional goals and personal peculiarities. However, most females prefer respect, freedom, comfortable environment, appropriate attitude and flexibility with schedules to the achievement of a certain powerful position. Simultaneously, underneath all these reasons, it is possible to notice dominating, stigmatized consciousness tuned against women despite the variety of indicated causes. According to the study conducted by the Pew Research Center (2008), female discrimination and resistance to alterations explain “the relative scarcity of women” present in the top management. Prejudicial social consciousness and behavior largely contribute to the reluctant occupational advancement of females. Alternatively, a combination of working and domestic responsibilities is a real challenge for the majority of women that enforces them to refuse from building a career. Furthermore, the employment market is rather inflexible and intolerant to females with children, and it forces them to make a choice on behalf of a child and retire from employment as well.
One of the critical factors that facilitates the underrepresentation of females in superior positions is associated with their childbearing age when they are forced to make an individual choice “between biological and career clocks” (Dominici, Fried, & Zeger, 2015). Pregnancy and further childbirth practically disable a woman from fulfilling working duties or affect one’s working performance. This factor may interfere with promoting a female employee to the top position that generally requires significant intellectual and physical dedication and consumes an essential portion of time. Aside childcare, one more factor that distracts women from job chances and career is the necessity of caring for elderly parents or any other family member who requires supportive care. Additionally, it is worth to state that it is extremely difficult for females to regain previous power and professional status upon return from maternity leave since any interval may affect one’s qualification and professional suitability.
Diverse findings assert that women are more likely to face obstacles to career development (Daskal, 2015). One of such is the impossibility to progress through certain subsequent, hierarchical positions that prevent them from becoming leaders. Other barriers involve discrimination, explicit bias, exclusion from social and informational networks, and deficient mentoring. Relatively less women approach the level of top management in comparison to men. Even holding a leadership position, female employees face poor or insufficient recognition of their efforts and intellectual capacities. It proves that strong stigma is still present in people’s minds. Females are aware of the fact that they will have less chances of having career development due to their gender. Furthermore, they are less represented in top authorities or superior positions in lieu of less support from senior-level people that traditionally prefer assisting men. The aforementioned reasons are the primary ones for understanding the insufficient presence of women in power.
Researchers suggest that such actions as time and career flexibility can be beneficial and reasonable for improving occupational achievements of females and may improve the sociological situation in this regard. Long-lasting intervals from work may entail disqualification and an ambition decline that reduce the presence of females at the labor market, not only at the top (Thomson, 2016). Therefore, nurture anticipation is critical for further promotion.
It is extremely crucial to promote women to leading positions as far as their presence can be mutually beneficial. According to the report presented at the World Economic Forum in 2015, companies with a significant part of female leadership manage to obtain “a 36% higher return on equity” (“It’s Official,” 2015). Strong female leaders can assist firms to achieve superior financial performance. Simultaneously, various research studies in management, sociology, and social psychology state that the gender-diverse staff is more innovative and can find better solutions (Thomson, 2016). Surveys alternatively demonstrate that companies with women on boards rarely face corporate controversies and scandals. Additionally, females present in the top management positions in politics, economics and other spheres can initiate certain reasonable alterations sufficient for the female population.
In conclusion, women actively participate in various spheres of life. However, sociologists outline such disturbing fact as their insufficient presence in superior positions that reflects gender imparity and social inequality in society. The variety of personal, social and educational factors is responsible for the lackadaisical promotion of females and, consequently, decreases their chances for career development. Despite a stigmatized attitude and consciousness prevailing in society, strong female leadership can demonstrate high results and performance.
Daskal, L. (2015, October 21). Study finds disturbing reasons why so few women are leaders. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/new-study-finds-disturbing-reasons-why-so-few-women-are-leaders.html
Dominici, F., Fried, L. P., & Zeger, S. L. (2009, July-August). So few women leaders: It’s no longer a pipeline problem, so what are the root causes? Retrieved from https://www.aaup.org/article/so-few-women-leaders
It’s official: Companies with women on the board perform better. (2015, December 8). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/12/its-official-women-on-boards-boost-business/
Pew Research Center. (2008, August 25). Men or women: Who is the better leader? Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2008/08/25/men-or-women-whos-the-better-leader/
Thomson, S. (2016, January 20). The real reasons there are so few women leaders. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-real-reasons-there-are-so-few-women-leaders