SDG 5: Gender Equality
Women in Leadership
“The future is wide open and depends on us, all of us.”
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “equality”? Well, most people will probably think about how unfair this world can be. Whether we are talking about the economy, politics, or even the most basic things for us (like social constructs). We know that the world never sleeps, so does the atrocity it produces.
For years, we have been struggling with equalities when it comes to gender roles. It is such a common thing for us to hear things like, “why can’t I ever get paid enough?” or “why does society think I’m the one to blame where in fact I’m the actual victim?” Well, we have never actually come to absolute solutions. Sure, there were movements conducted by the people who wanted equalities for both genders. But when it comes to female empowerment, what does society usually say? “Oh really? What can you actually do?”
Women are often underappreciated when it comes to working. However, in point of fact, a working environment that includes women, especially in leadership, produces a better decision-making process than those who are not. If you are wondering why, women naturally have the tendency to be cautious. They are able to provide new perspectives and usually are way more organized. These qualities are very fundamental in a risk management situation. To give you a better understanding, let us take a look at some of these very powerful and influential women leaders that are able to make changes.
At the present day, we have been battling this whole pandemic situation. Millions of people died and some of them survived. Countries are shaking their head real bad on how to tackle all this. Wrong move, real bad butterfly effect coming up. But these people did a lot of great work in saving their country. Take a look at Germany. We all know who Angela Merkel is. She is one of the best chancellors Germany ever has. Not to mention that she is, in fact, the first female German chancellor. With her absolutely outstanding science background, she managed to save Germany from the whole crisis with a pretty impressive mitigation move.
Another example is New Zealand. Its amazing prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has this very interesting approach to her leadership style. She is very empathic, clear, and direct in delivering information. She knows that she needs to stand with the people. And by this, she manages to get people to believe that everyone should work together as a whole. Resulting in a more conducive situation in New Zealand.
The above examples have depicted a number of successful women in leadership. Nevertheless, let us discuss the obstacles that women face in leadership. According to Dr. Shawn Andrews, “there are four types of barriers to leadership for women: structural barriers, institutional mindsets, individual mindsets, and lifestyle choices” (n.d.). The first type is called a structural barrier. As we know, in the world of business, it is bound to encounter informal networking events such as attending golf play or other events involving sports as well as grabbing drinks. However, most of the time, generally, men already have the stereotype that women are not the kind of person who enjoys attending those kinds of events. So, women are usually left out.
The next type is known as institutional barriers. There are different forms of gender inequality and stereotyping of cultural mindsets. For instance, role incongruity happens when someone retains attitudes or assumptions about a community that is incompatible with the actions they believe is appropriate to perform in a specific position. In other words, there is a widespread perception that variations in gender render women and men in different positions successful.
In comparison, many people equate leadership attitudes with agentic attitudes aligned with traditional “masculine traits such as assertiveness, aggression, rivalry, superiority, determination, and self-reliance” (Andrews, n.d.). This relationship poses a dilemma for women as they assume positions of leadership since they are supposed to behave as a leader and a woman.
Another type of barrier is the individual mindset of women themselves. According to statistics, it is shown that “most women reach the director level and stay there, or self-select out of the workforce’’ (Andrews, n.d.). “For a variety of causes, most women do not seek vice president, president or C-level offices like socialization stresses, lack of trust, risk avoidance, work-life balance or a willingness to avoid politics” (Andrews, n.d.).
Now that we have discussed the obstacles of women in leadership. Let us now delve into the potential solutions. So, the first solution is for women to express their readiness to serve in senior positions. They ought to be diligent in demonstrating their potential for these roles. Many examples include expressing their interest in a new idea, demonstrating the desire to travel, and setting forward potential job aspirations, say a five-year plan (Reid, 2020). Another way could be from seeking help from fellow females as well as to support each other.
The next solution is for women to change their mindset; the quest for a work-life combination around work-life harmony. This does not necessarily mean that women need to be in a professional mood at all times as “taking home to work and vice versa can be a safe and realistic way to make you feel more “present” in all these critical fields” (Reid, 2020). With this being said, a related solution is to also “cope with negative emotions’’ for women (Reid, 2020). Next solution, as we have discussed previously, attending informal networking events are of great significance, that is why women must proactively show that they are interested to join such events.
Now that we elaborated as well as discussed women in leadership, we know that women do have the potential. However, it is society’s way of thinking that needs to be addressed. Not only that, but also the mindset of women themselves. They need to feel empowered that it is possible for them to accomplish the things that men can do. Just because women tend to be labeled with the feminine side, it does not close the fact that women cannot be the agentic person of a company.
Writers: Fathimah Nur Shabrina, Aisyah Putri Ramadhania
Editor: Ratu Annisa Gandasari
Andrews, D., n.d. Gender Barriers And Solutions To Leadership – Training Industry. [online] Training Industry. Available at: <https://trainingindustry.com/magazine/issue/gender-barriers-and-solutions-to-leadership/#:~:text=There%20are%20four%20types%20of,or%20simple%20after%2Dwork%20drinks.> [Accessed 3 July 2020].
Bastian, H. (2020). What the Data Really Says About Women Leaders and the Pandemic. [Online]. Retrieved from
Business News Daily. 17 Reasons Women Make Great Leaders. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.replicon.com/blog/17-reasons-women-make-great-leaders/
Friedman, U. (2020). New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-leadership-coronavirus/610237/
Gallop, C., Premuzic, T. (2019). 7 Leadership Lessons Men Can Learn from Women. [Online]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/04/7-leadership-lessons-men-can-learn-from-women
Lagarde, C. (2019). Angela Merkel—Striking the Right Note on Leadership. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/08/31/sp083119-Angela-Merkel-Striking-the-Right-Note-on-Leadership
Reid, R., 2020. Women In Leadership: Challenges & Solutions. [online] Pinnaclewellbeingservices.com. Available at:<https://pinnaclewellbeingservices.com/women-in-leadership-challenges-solutions/> [Accessed 3 July 2020].
Women Deliver. Women’s Leadership. [Online]. Retrieved from https://womendeliver.org/womensleadership/