Leadership Role Of Women

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Leadership Role of Women

Leadership Role of Women


The women's movement has challenged the notion of predetermined gender roles as “natural.” Gender roles are instead socially constructed classifications that are inspired and furthered by the overarching influence of patriarchy within society, communities, and families. It is thus imperative that these fundamental, patriarchal classification schemes are challenged and deconstructed (Jacobs, 2006). The fundamental structure of Western patriarchal society depends upon an understanding that males are superior, more powerful, and that they represent the “norm,” whereas women are understood as inferior, lacking in power and autonomy, and secondary. The power of socialization that underlies this system cannot be ignored. In fact, sexist, patriarchal values are so deeply engrained in society's consciousness that they are largely invisible (Hyman, 2006). The very fabric of social organization has been woven by males, for males, to support males. In many bureaucracies, whether they are governmental or corporate, most of the upper positions are held by men. Women are generally concentrated in the lower, supportive positions necessary to keep this male leadership in power (Helgesen, 2007). Thus, the power, prestige, and privileges of those in positions of power, generally males, depend on the subordinate position of women. This ordering of power thus has serious consequences for women's leadership.


Numerous strategies have been attempted to overcome these barriers to women's leadership, particularly within the workplace. The goal is fair representation of women within corporations, politics, the professions, religious organizations, and unions. But there are limits to promoting equality within the structures that are maintained by patriarchal values. Through existing male-dominated organizations, men have come to view their perspectives and norms as being representative of wider, gender-neutral human organizations (Eagly, 2008). With this perspective comes an assumption that the structure is asexual. This results in an undervaluing of women's knowledge and experiences. Even when women move into leadership positions, they are conditioned by the perspectives and power structures to maintain the status quo; while gender composition may be changed, the underlying structure of power, knowledge, status, and wealth is not challenged. Simply put, male dominance is the main obstacle to women rising to top positions in corporations and politics. Furthermore, traditional gender roles, still widespread in society, are barriers to women climbing corporate ladders (Jacobs, 2006). Current value systems largely support the notion that it is better for the family if the father is employed and the mother takes care of the majority of parental responsibilities. Unsupportive attitudes from family, friends, and co-workers may have negative effects on women's work and their roles in society.

The Glass Ceiling

To understand the limited movement of women into prominent positions of leadership, concepts such as the “glass ceiling” have come into wide use. The term is commonly used to describe the invisible barrier that blocks women's chances of further promotion or advancement up the corporate ladder (Hyman, 2006). The glass ceiling is not simply a barrier for individual women, but it also applies to women as a group, who are kept from ...
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