Communal (connecting with others, cooperative, sensitive, empathetic, and nurturing)
Emotional and often cry; unable to control emotion; less credible
Agentic (assertive, autonomous, self-promoting, dominant, and tough)
Hard-headed and able to control emotion; knows when to display emotion (if at all)
Women are more interpersonally oriented and democratic than men, and men are more task-oriented and autocratic than women.
Sometimes people view women as lacking the stereotypical directive and assertive qualities of good leaders—that is, as not being tough enough or not taking charge. “Sometimes people dislike female leaders who display these very directive and assertive qualities because such women seem unfeminine—that is, just like a man or like an iron lady.
Systemic Barriers that Inhibit Women’s Abilities to Lead Effectively
The list assembled below includes typical barriers and obstacles that prevent women from reaching the top.
1. Lack of access to positions of power; discrimination: men are favored for upper echelon positions
2. Domination and lack of respect
3. Bias, prejudice, negative stereotyping based on traits and behavioral characteristics attributed to women
4. Perceived incompetency and therefore viewing women as less credible as influence agents
5. Cross-pressures and competing priorities between leadership and gender roles
6. Lack of adequate mentoring and lack of female role models in the workplace
7. Organizational culture with a bias toward hiring men: Competent women are perceived as violating prescriptive gender role norms that expect women to be communal
8. Agentic women are considered less socially competent or accepted
9. Succession planning that ignores women’s careers
10. The “vision thing” that is perceived to be lacking from women’s transformational leadership style
11. Female managers are isolated from social networks
12. Women are more internally motivated by self-improvement and goals related to team success, not only quantitative benchmarks
13. Reward systems organized around extrinsic values and hard skills; intrinsic values and soft skills are less emphasized
14. Greater preference for male bosses
15. Outright discrimination based on sex as well as on race
Many women report that to be successful, they need to demonstrate super-human levels of commitment, technical proficiency, meeting bottom line results, exhibiting strategic thinking, demonstrating effective decision-making skills, applying creativity, having effective conflict-resolution skills, and coping with change and uncertainty—all coupled with long hours at work. What’s more, women have to deal with the inconsistency of their own sense of success and the way organizations measure it. Women also experience cross-pressures for their time and the constant need to balance competing priorities across life and career goals that are different for men. Consequently, many women choose to work part-time or not at all so they can attend to their families at home. Others telecommute by working from home, most commonly on a part-time basis. Indeed, Ruderman and Ohlott (2004) reported a higher turnover rate for women than for their male counterparts in executive positions with at least ten years of experience.
Organizations must not only recognize the barriers that exist that prevent women from fully committing to work, but also must offer support to help women balance their contradictory roles.
Women help boost a company’s public image and reputation through support of social responsibility and philanthropic programs. They add value to the company with unique adaptability skills and are masters in creating positive work climates based on inclusion and diversity. They typically have a stronger moral orientation and possess more social sensitivity than men, a necessary attribute to have on a socially accountable company’s board.