Within the realms of predominantly male-operated economy, women are facing numerous challenges related to managerial and leadership positions in various industries. While the situation has positively changed in the course of the last five decades, still there are hindrances and setbacks disabling greater numbers of women to take lead positions in companies and businesses. While the female leadership in many organizational settings is not unique, still most of us would not name at least few internationally acclaimed women leaders (Rosin, 2010).
Foremost, there are fundamental challenges faced by women in leadership. This is due to the peculiarities of a female nature and a global role of a woman in a society notwithstanding all the biases and stereotypes over the issue. Most researchers of organizational leadership claim that women are overemotional and therefore more prone to stress. Failure to balance one’s emotions appropriately is about non-complying with the requirements of emotional intelligence that are the core for efficient leaders in addition to intellectual and organizational qualities. The problem is that most women get blinded by their emotions while the feminine nature lets them down in critical cases and crisis management situations. Quite on the opposite, while in management or leadership positions, most women get cold and stoic while hiding emotions in themselves. The lack of concern and empathy to the needs and concerns of the subordinates eventually distracts and alienates people from their leaders. While female leaders tend to show their strength and stuff their emotions down just for the sake of effective leadership, they seem artificial to their followers and lose faith in their approach (Burke & Nelson, 2000).
The next major challenge concerns work-life balance. Women who prioritize on professional duties over their family commitments are not good mothers. Trying to follow the stereotypes and trends of feminism subculture, many women try to fulfil their ambitions as organizational leaders. At that, most sacrifice their natural role of serving as loving and caring mothers first. The experiments with work-life balance do not make sound women leaders either. Most women fail to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and prioritize either on family or professional matters especially while forced by critical situations. While combining work-life balance, effective female professionals clearly differentiate between family and professional priorities while understanding that both are global domain that take time and effort and require sacrifice (Ely & Rhode, 2010).
Female leadership and decision-making are not popular among male followers. Feeling pressure and tough calls from female leaders assumes subsequent opposition from male subordinates. While female leaders are making tough decisions or are holding others accountable in a bold manner, they risk leading in a bossy manner rather than being graceful and kind. Overall, there are in-depth challenges of women working with men, let alone commanding them.
This means that most males naturally associate a woman with natural beauty and attraction rather with leading positions in business. Even though these stereotypes erase over time, still in critical cases both women and men unmask corporate artificiality and show their real nature. No matter how smart and effective female leaders may be, most men fail to hear a woman’s voice. The natural male’s dominance is within, which is why many women leaders fail to believe in their abilities even though in managerial positions. The latter are open for genuinely strong female leaders capable to manage their emotions and show confidence while managing and leading others (Eagly & Carl, 2003).
While facing the dramatic shift of women roles in the United States in the last 50 years, most observers still articulate on the basic challenges that deprive greater numbers of women to hold managerial and leadership positions in competitive organizations (Rosin, 2010).
- Burke, R., & Nelson, D. (2000). Women executives: Health, stress, and success. Academy of Management Executive,14, 107-121.
- Eagly, AH., & Carl, LL. (2003). The female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. The Leadership Quarterly, 14, 807-834.
- Ely, RJ. & Rhode DL. (2010). “Women and leadership: Defining challenges,” Harvard Business Press.
- Rosin, H. (2010). “New data on the rise of women,” TED Talk retrieved April 11, 2017 from https://www.ted.com/talks/hanna_rosin_new_data_on_the_rise_of_women?language=en