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The Importance of Women in Leadership

Author: Bhavika Jain

Overview:

  • Women’s leadership is undervalued despite studies showing advantages and as seen in examples from historical successes.
  • Embracing diverse leadership qualities is essential for innovation and productivity
  • Countries such as Austria have benefitted from the importance of women in leadership.
  • Regulatory acts promoting women in leadership show positive economic outcomes, empowering women globally.

Diversity in any institution is important. It elevates the functioning and brings in new ideas. This is the same for different companies and organizations. But like every other aspect of the society, women discrimination in the workplace persists. It is now time to understand the importance of women in leadership.

This is especially true for leadership positions in the workplace. Although now we can see a more versatile environment in any company, it is still limited to a certain level. This ignorance in women’s capabilities is a huge hindrance in any organization’s growth.

The Undervalued Leadership Potential of Women

Apart from physical features, men and women differ greatly. Their varying personalities and behavior have always been a point of discussion. These are both due to innate biological aspects and different socio-cultural factors.

According to the National Institute of Health, “Women on average, are more nurturing, tender-minded, and altruistic more often and to a greater extent than men.” These traits are considered negative for leadership roles and are also stubbornly linked with women. Strong and assertive women seem to be an unthinkable concept even now, making women in leadership a foreign concept. This is because traditionally women are associated to be caretakers whose role is bound only to domestic activities and childbearing. 

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Image Credits: Freepik

Why, despite women’s warmth and care, does cynicism persist toward them in leadership roles, given their potential and capabilities? The way a woman acts, feels and expresses herself have always been undervalued. Women encourage a more collaborative work experience increasing productivity and fairness. Their accepting nature makes everyone feel heard and valued, which leads to more dedicated and happy employees. Despite many studies proving the importance of women in leadership, only 10% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.

Exemplary Women Leaders Throughout History

History is proof that women can be and have been successful leaders. Their underrepresentation in almost every field has given the world women leaders who have propagated the fight for women’s rights. These women took charge for better treatment and society when they weren’t even allowed to get out of their house. It’s time to start incorporating their efforts forever rather than only celebrating it on Women’s History Month. We need to celebrate the efforts of women which changed the lives of women in contemporary society.

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Image Credits: Pexels

Margaret Dreier Robins was an American labor leader and philanthropist. She was in charge of the Women’s Trade Union League from 1907 to 1922. During that time, the organization grew bigger, got better funded, and gained more power. They kept records like articles, speeches, meeting notes, and lots of letters.  These proved what it was like for a woman fighting for equal rights in the early 1900s.

Katherine Graham was the first woman to lead a company on Fortune 500 list in 1963 after her husband’s death. She had her share of struggles. She felt it was hard to find female role models at that time who were leading businesses. Oftentimes she also felt her male counterparts weren’t giving her the respect she deserved. With her as the leading lady of The Washington Post, the paper was reputed as the second most respected paper in the country.

Through these and many more stories, there is no doubt that women have been extraordinary leaders throughout history. Even though such examples keep on growing, there is still so much potential which is not being discovered.

Embracing Diversity in Leadership

Discussions about the importance of women in leadership should not turn into debates about which gender is a better leader. It’s not about proving women or men better fit in leadership roles but about understanding the diverse qualities everyone has. Humans are rational creative beings meant to find solutions to a problem in different ways. Leadership is not a one way act, everyone has different ideas to turn themselves into effective leaders. Ideally a leader must be perfect with all the good qualities in a person combined. He or she must be an active listener while knowing when to give commands. A leader must be self aware, optimistic, patient, compassionate and so many things at once. When people say women can’t be leaders, are they saying men have all these qualities? 

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Image Credits: Freepik

Values and qualities needed to be a leader are usually not naturalistic. They are not inherent but something that a person becomes through the experience and the people they surround themselves with. These cannot be determined by the gender of a person may it be female, male or others. Including females in leadership will give new perspectives to any team and an organization as a whole. It will also uplift women to partake in fields which are more likely to give them promotions. 

Importance of Women in Leadership Roles

Austria, the UK, Argentina and more are among the top listed countries with the most number of women in the leadership. The Australian Chamber of Labour integrated the Act on Equality between Women and Men in Supervisory Boards.  After which the country saw an increase of 22.4% in the share of women on supervisory boards of companies. The after result was seen as very productive and positive. It could be seen that including and increasing women in leadership positions gave a competitive edge to Austria.

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Image Credits: Freepik

Enforcing such regulatory acts is important in different countries to empower women to grow globally. This can be seen through concrete evidence with companies having women as leaders. A report by McKinsey and Company states that companies with more women experienced a 42% increase in return on sales.  They also saw a 66% increase in return on invested capital compared to those with exclusively male boards.

Apart from the economic and financial benefits, having more women in leadership also boosts women empowerment. It becomes a source of inspiration for the women in upcoming generations. They see women succeeding at such high levels which motivates them to do even better. 

Conclusion

Now that we have seen the importance of women in leadership, it is important to act on it. Acknowledging a woman’s capability is the first very step in this endeavor. Not only in companies, but in every institution it is crucial to respect everyone’s opinion equally. Learning from the examples of organizations is the best way to increase efficiency and team performance. We can learn from those who have a diverse leadership board and can benefit from it personally.

FAQs:

Why are there less women leaders in Fortune 500 companies?

There are less women leaders in Fortune 500 companies and in general as there still persists discrimination against women in the workplace. Men are still considered for leadership roles despite women having similar or better qualifications. Apart from this, one of the major reasons is the leaky pipeline concept. This is true not only for leadership but also women in other fields. 

What is the leaky pipeline phenomenon?

Leaky pipeline phenomenon is one of the major reasons for underrepresentation of women. This concept proves how with growing levels in career the proportion of women in various fields decreases. This is true majorly in STEM and leadership positions. This happens because women are expected to take on familial duties. They are expected to give most of their time at home and with their children.

Does women in leadership lead to better results for an organization?

Importance of women in leadership is about acknowledging everyone’s capabilities equally. It is proven that diverse companies produce better results. This is not only true in terms of gender but also people from different backgrounds and cultures bring in different ideas. This leads to mutual growth. This means having more women in leadership is better for any company.

Bhavika Jain

Bhavika is someone who loves to explore different activities. She finds great interest in reading, watching movies, and dancing. Despite wanting to keep herself busy, she loves and prefers an introverted life, staying warm in her room where she can be herself. She isn’t the biggest fan of chocolate-based stuff and is ridiculously against keeping pets.

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