That was the question posed at Friday’s Utah Valley Women’s Business Conference and according to research presented at that same conference, the answer is yes. Keynote speaker Bob Sherwin, CEO of Zenger Folkman, presented research his company published in the March edition of the Harvard Business Review. The data comes from thousands of surveys that rate leaders in 16 different traits thought to be important to leadership, including taking initiative, driving results, developing strategic perspectives, developing others and establishing goals. The research shows that when evaluated by their superiors, peers, subordinates and themselves, women in leadership positions score better than men in 12 of the 16 categories. “Some of the outcomes we expected like men holding more leadership positions, men holding higher positions and women being better nurturers,” Sherwin said. “But some things were unexpected like women’s advantages not being confined to nurturing.” Sherwin said that at every level of leadership ranging from supervisor to CEO women were perceived as being more effective leaders and the higher the position the bigger the gap was between how effective women were versus men.
“In their study they found that women had higher marks on taking initiative and driving for results and that is a new thing,” said Susan Madsen, professor of leadership and ethics at Utah Valley University’s Woodbury business school. “Men have been known for getting results and women for just caring about people but women are stepping up.” Despite research that shows women can be — and are — effective leaders, the number of women in leadership positions is still very low compared to men. According to data presented by Sherwin, 53 percent of new hires are women and 47 percent are men but as you climb the ladder positions held by women get fewer and fewer. Sherwin says at the supervisor level 37 percent are women and 63 percent are men, at the vice president level only 26 percent are women and by the time you get to CEO only 3 percent of those positions are held by women. Madsen said it isn’t entirely clear as to why women aren’t in more leadership positions but that research points to several reasons.
Women and Men Communicate Differently The process of neo-Liberal dogmas, such as celebration of diversity and elimination of sexism, being showed up peoples throats, brought about a situation, when employment policies correspond less and less to the objective reality of interaction between genders at workplace. Men and women are expected to execute their professional duties with the same ...
“The literature is pretty clear, sometimes women just don’t want to be in those roles, they will go up the ladder and look ahead and see how people above them are giving up so much and not paying attention to their families. It is a choice that women make sometimes even though they are qualified,” Madsen said. “Sometimes they don’t see role models so they don’t think that there is an opportunity for them. Women also a lot of times believe that they are not prepared to move into leadership, think they should know everything, have answers before they move into a leadership role, while men with the same experience will just go for it.” Sherwin cited three reasons why women may not be advancing up the corporate ladder as fast as men: women not wanting the job, women thinking they can’t get the job and women thinking they can’t have the job. He says the first is a personal choice but the second two are because there is a culture of having men in leadership. “There are stereotypes about what women and men are expected to do and the kind of things they are strong at and not strong at,” said Tali Mendelberg, associate professor of politics at Princeton University.
“Society says women are not adequate leaders and hand in hand with that goes the experience many women have that if they do act like leaders and exercise leadership they suffer adverse consequences. Many women who have the talent are reluctant to exercise those talents because they don’t want to pay the costs.” Sherwin said that businesses should be doing whatever it takes to get more women in leadership positions. “Performance is tied to leaders; the more effective leaders you have the better performance you will have and women are more effective,” Sherwin said. “The implication is that if companies have spots that need filling, filling them with women will make a difference.” He said companies can encourage women by offering more flexible options like job sharing, family time-off, part-time programs or flexibility in scheduling. “Women bring some unique perspectives and abilities to any profession,” said Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo.
The roles of women have been evolving for the last 100 years. Many women have shattered the stereotype that a women’s role is to be in charge of the family and have become leaders in a walks of life. Women have proved that they can be effective as business and government leaders. Although there are still gender biases that can exist, it is much move covert then it was 40 years ago. Oddly enough, ...
“That is to the advantage of any company to have a diversity of abilities and opinions in leadership roles.” Both Sherwin and Madsen spoke to the importance of women having role models to look up to, saying it is important for women to see other women being successful. But they also said that right now there aren’t many high-powered women to look up to. “It is one of my goals to be a good example and to be that role model to other women. I want them to think I can do that, that is something I can do and I can achieve,” Lockhart said. “It is not impossible to have a family and career but it does involve sacrifice. Women have to balance all of the things in their life and make choices.” Madsen said that regardless of whether women want to have high-powered careers or not, it is important for them to get involved in leadership in whatever way possible. “Leadership is important in the community and other places. The more women we have in leadership, whether it be church, communities or high school principals it will impact the outcome of generations to come,” Madsen said. “All women need to be leaders, they just don’t have to be a CEO.”