Archive for September, 2008

Gender Issues in Corporate America

Posted on September 25, 2008. Filed under: Academic Publishings |

The concept of management and leadership have not always coincided with one another.  These two concepts have remained separate but interconnected for centuries and have manipulated themselves across cultures and nationalities as a continuously evolving business model.  This chapter begins by highlighting the fact that management is beginning to bear a new face – that of a woman’s.  Because women have entered managerial positions, what does this mean for managerial practices, leadership styles, communication styles, and leadership techniques?

What is hard to believe, is that, although employees are increasingly working for women, according to a study posed by the Gallup Organization, overwhelming responses suggested that they would prefer to work for a male manager than a female (134-135).  Before diving into racial differences, this chapter will provide some insight into gender differences and how they affect leadership.

The study of gender differences among leadership is a recent phenomenon, starting in the late 70’s.  A study by Virginia Schein portrayed that “both male and female middle managers believed that a successful middle manager possessed personal characteristics that more closely matched beliefs about the characteristics of men in general than those of women in general (136).” What came about from this study suggests that successful leadership characteristics are embodied in those who exhibit male behaviors.  This message is clearly portraying the notion that men are by nature, better leaders, and if one wants to be a successful leader, one must think like a man.

In addition to studying male and female differences, the authors also discussed a hybrid of successful gender characteristics termed androgynous.  This term “represents a combination of high levels of masculine and feminine characteristics (136).” Although this may provide substantial future data, this does not directly apply to my focused studies of leadership across gender and minorities.  However, they continue to suggest that as women continue to enter managerial positions, they are still bound to male concepts of leadership characteristics and behaviors.

These constraints inhibit female leadership development because gender patterns differ and do not directly coincide with similar approaches to situations.  During performance reviews, women generally receive lower rankings than their male counterparts.  “When performance evaluations are conducted, women may receive lower ratings than men for similar levels of performance (139).” What is evident in this study is that women must work harder to receive a better performance review than men, and that the evaluation system is inherently biased against women.  This poses the question, how far is the gap between male and female standards? Are women expected to not perform as well as men? This is something I would like to explore in future readings, with a particular emphasis on transaction versus transformational characteristics.

The authors later outline the demographic breakdown of U.S. managers, with women holding nearly 50% of managerial positions, however, among both leaders, they remain predominantly non-Hispanic whites.  “Of all the managerial positions held by women, non-Hispanic white women hold 81%, Black women hold 9%, Hispanic women hold 6%, and Asian women hold 4%.  Similarly, of all the managerial positions held by men, non-Hispanic white men hold 84%, Black men hold 6%, Hispanic men hold 5%, and Asian men hold 4% (140).” These statistics speak to a larger dilemma within corporate America that I will pursue later.  However, this chapter provides an insightful prediction for what will come.  Why is it that both male and female non-Hispanic managers acquire managerial positions while other racial and ethnic groups suffer from adverse affects of very low statistics?

The questions I would like to pursue later are whether or not racial stereotypes are being applied to managerial capabilities and if race transcends traditional and modern concepts of successful managerial characteristics/behaviors.  Refer to Chapter 3 later for leader behavior notes.

This chapter highlights several areas of research that may help provide background information regarding barriers to entry in gender differences.  Through numerous studies and reports, this book highlights several factors that contribute to leadership differences and its foundations in society and in our culture.  This chapter does reinforce what other readings have suggested.

Powell, Gary N. and Laura M. Graves. Women and Men in Management. 3rd Edition. Sage Publications. 2003. Chapter 6. pgs. 133-156.

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