The Dialogue: Women and Leadership

Posted on March 19, 2013 by


Enjoying the dialogue regarding women and leadership? It is a reminder that there is much work to be done in closing the gender gap so that more women actualize the C-suite in organizations. Studies have shown that there is still a significant gender gap, with women being under-represented in leadership positions (Liff & Ward, 2001; Noble & Moore, 2006; Clarke, 2010).  “The intransigence of barriers preventing the equality between men and women at the highest level of management is destructive to good management and productive outcomes” (Noble & Moore, 2006, p. 599).

A significant portion of the current discourse relates to what women do wrong – not being assertive enough, not having the presence that reflects maturity and confidence in the grade, and common mistakes women make that derail their career trajectory, the dialogue should not be limited to what seems to be a pervasive blaming of women for not achieving greater success.  Instead, the dialogue should focus on what leaders can do to further develop women leaders.

Strong mentoring programs help empower women and help them find their voice in leadership circles.  Through mentoring, women protegés can learn the nuances of the organizational culture, political land mines and where the true power lies as well as whom it lies with in the organization.  Additionally, the status of the mentor provides additional validation of the protegé’s talents, further supporting women as they seek higher positions. Mentoring also provides a vehicle for helping high potential women develop presence, critical and strategic thinking, persuasive communication and networking skills (Chao, Walz & Gardner, 1992; Clarke, 2010).

Chao, G.T., Walz, P.M., and Gardner, P.D. (1992).  Formal and informal mentorships: A comparison on mentoring functions and contrast with non-mentored counterparts. Personnel Psychology, 45(3), 619-636.

Clarke, M. (2011).  Advancing women’s careers through leadership development programs.  Employee Relations, 33(5), 498-515. DOI: 10.1108/01-4254511111153871

Liff,S. and Ward, K. (2001). Distorted views through the glass ceiling: The construction of women’s understandings of promotion and senior management.  Gender, Work and Organization, 8(1), 19-36.

Noble, C. and Moore, S. (2005).  Advancing women and leadership in this post feminist, post EEO era: A discussion  of the issues. Women In Management Review, 21(7), 598-603. DOI:10.1108/09649420610692534