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Women in Business Leadership: Up Against a Second Glass Ceiling. By Martha C. White. More women are shattering the glass ceiling, only to find another one preventing them from reaching the pinnacles of America's business world. Although more than 80 …
Women in Leadership and the Busted Glass Ceiling – A Book Review
Today, women in large corporations compete alongside of men for the top positions in the company. In fact, in almost any large Corporation you will find women executives, who are running the show, and they are running it well. Of course, it took a long time to get to this point, and things have changed a lot in the last 50 years. Perhaps, you’d like to read a book that was written in the 1980s giving advice to women that were destined to break the corporate glass ceiling.
If so, there is a very good book I’d like you to read, one that I have read, and it sits in my business library bookshelves at home. The name of the book is;
“Moving up – Women in Leadership” by Lois Borland Hart, 1980.
This is an American Management Association book that was very popular in the 80s. The first chapter is titled; So, You Want to Be a Leader? It explains to women who want to move up into the upper echelon of executive management exactly what they will be dealing with in the future. Often, women have to do better than men just to prove themselves or at least it was that way in the 80s. I realize this book is 30 years old now, and so much has changed, nevertheless, this is good all around advice.
Other chapters explain how leadership in a Corporation works, how to work effectively with business owners, and the skills which are needed in supervising and management. Next, the author goes into how to make decisions on the job and how to plan for change. She explains what it’s going to take, if they want to succeed in upper management.
Indeed, I think you should read this book if you are a woman in leadership, or want to get to the top. I also think this book would be good for any man who is somewhat a sexist, and is having a hard time competing with women in the workplace. Please consider all this.
Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes in women in leadership.
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Research shows a distinction between the leadership styles of the small number of women who have broken the glass ceiling and moved on to success at the senior management levels, and the more numerous women who are leaders in organizations characterized by Hughes, Ginnett and Curphy, as medium-sized, nontraditional organizations. Women in the former group were found to have identical management styles and attributes to their male counterparts when comparing personality types, thinking styles, and interpersonal skills. Males and females were equal in commonly identified masculine attributes like aggressiveness, analytical thinking, competitiveness, and decisiveness. Conversely, their male counterparts were found to be equal with the females in what would be characterized as feminine managerial attributes like empathy, listening skills, and people-orientation (Hughes, Ginnett, Curphy, 2012, pp.30-31). The indication is that those who achieve success at higher levels, whether male or female, have basically the same managerial attributes. What we do not know is why. Is it the result of similar experiences on the way up the corporate ladder? Or have they successfully met some unspoken criteria in their pursuit of success?
Answers to these questions would certainly be of interest to those who aspire to follow in their footsteps, especially in light of the fact that just the opposite appears to be true for women in the latter group, who portray a totally different picture. These are women, who did not follow what Hughes Ginnett and Curphy call the traditional “rules of conduct,” but opted for an interactive leadership style that is characterized by subordinate empowerment, team-orientation, and a sharing of power and information. Expert Judith Rosener explains that these are women who are effectively using socialization skills they have developed as a result of being placed in managerial roles without the formal positional authority. Absent that formal authority, they have been forced to become skilled at accomplishing goals through relational and interactive leadership. In a 1990, Harvard Business Review article, Rosener describes how this new interactive management has proven in some organizational situations to be more effective than the typical command-and-control management style, most particularly in organizations that struggle with significant uncertainty and rapid change (Rosener, 1990). The inference is that such organizations by necessity become more results oriented, and as such, become more dependent upon flexibility and decentralization. Environmental ambiguity is forcing them to be receptive to more innovative management styles.
While organizational and cultural changes are in fact resulting in more managerial opportunities for women, gender stereotyping continues to be a limiting factor for women. In a cross-cultural research project conducted by Virginia Schein of Gettysburg College and Ruediger Mueller of the University of Wisconsin, the results showed a “Strong and similar pattern of sex typing of the managerial position among male management students within Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S.” The outcome demonstrated that males in all three countries overwhelmingly believed that successful middle managers possess characteristics, attitudes, and temperaments more commonly ascribed to men than to women (Schein, Ruediger, 1992). It was only the female participants from the United States who believed that women had the ability to succeed in management like men. It is an older study, but significant because of today’s globalization. This means that American women must overcome not only the stereotypes here in the United States, but also those in foreign countries as well.
Gender stereotyping is not the only issue that limits women in the managerial success today. Many are single head-of-household mothers raising children and caring for families, and may be forced to choose between family and promotion. Others may feel obliged to accept riskier assignments for fear they may not be given another opportunity. Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy identify the challenge of the glass cliff, where women are more likely than their male counterparts to be hired in management positions for an organization that is on the decline. And there is always the added pressure from all eyes on you because you are the novelty in the organization (Hughes, Ginnett, Curphy, 2012, p.30).
Women face many obstacles in their quest for managerial equality. But some are successfully breaking through. Others are learning to use their skills in new innovative ways, pulling away from the traditional management rules, and finding success in the process. And while gender stereotyping does continue to exist, the ambiguity and complexity in today’s business environment may well be encouraging decision-makers to reconsider their options as they choose between tradition and survival.
Hughes, R.L., Ginnett, R.C., Curphy, G.J. 2012. Leadership enhancing the lessons of experience seventh edition. McGraw-Hill. New York, NY.
Rosener, J.B. (Nov. 1990). Ways women lead. Harvard Business Review.
Schein, V.E., Mueller, R. (Sept. 1992.) Sex role stereotyping and requisite management characteristics: a cross cultural look. Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol 13, No. 5 439-447.
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Women are well represented in the advertising industry – I should know, I worked in that space for a number of years as a Copywriter. And there are many powerful women within their own domains. But at the senior levels there is still a challenge in women breaking through the glass ceiling.
The Communications Council has taken up the challenge of developing a program to apply some heat to redress the gender imbalance at the executive level.
Like a some other industries, women are in need of encouragement and positive empowerment to put their hand up for managerial roles.
Only 26 per cent of management roles in the industry are filled by women, according to recent research. Beyond that level, there is a dearth of female representation at senior management, executive and Board level in agencies.
Well done Margaret Zabel, the new CEO of the Communications Council, for having the drive and tenacity to establish the diversity committee with a charter to address gender inequity at management levels.More information: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/media/marketing/gender-diversity-team-to-break-sectors-glass-ceiling/story-fna12mff-1226321628885