Factors and Challenges Influencing Women Leadership in Management

Abstract

Nowadays, it is increasingly evident that women hold leadership positions, and this is always a topic of discussion. In the modern period, many stereotypes formed over the centuries are beginning to be rethought in society, in particular, the idea that women are destined. The thesis aims to consider certain difficulties that women leaders face. Regardless of gender, a successful leader should have a certain set of personal and professional qualities.

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Strong character, ability to lead people, responsibility, business sense – all that is necessary for the leader. Currently, both men and women can possess these traits. Despite this, there are differences between male and female forms of management. A woman leader rarely resorts to an authoritarian style of management, she most often uses persuasion methods, tries to motivate staff, and not force them to fulfill their goals and objectives. In conflict situations and negotiations, she might often seek a compromise, rather than coercion, carefully considers decisions, taking into account the opinions of others.

Introduction

Modern working women and women in management need to make maximum personal efforts to create real competition for men in the managerial labor market. The success of professional self-realization depends not only on competencies, creative and creative thinking, but also on the gender characteristics of the individual. They also have competitive qualities such as high educational potential, sociability, responsibility, integrity, and hard work.

Some features of the career strategy of women are presented, the leadership style of which is individual. Each female leader uses the experience of other leaders, including men, often shows traditionally masculine qualities, of course, not forgetting about feminine qualities, but she always introduces a personal, individual component in her professional activity, which is always tuned for success.

Literature Review

There are a number of key factors and challenges that directly or indirectly affect women leadership in management. In manufacturing industry, it is important to note that women are influenced by their level of competence, family support, and emotional stability (Klenke, 2017). It is mainly due to the fact that the given field put a significant amount of stress on women. The study conducted in New York shows that women in automotive industry are primarily affected by appointment criteria, work environment, and skills and knowledge, and all these factors are manifested in their overall performance (Glass & Cook, 2016).

In addition, stereotyping plays a major role in determining a woman’s success as a leader, because it hinders the career progression (Brookes & Grint, 2010). Gender inequality and stereotyping are also critical factors that influence women of color substantially due to two main components, such as racism and sexism (Sanchez-Hucles & Davis, 2010). In the context of trait, contingency, and behavioral leadership, women are more likely to be subjects of gender inequality and stereotyping, and harassment (Ayman & Korabik, 2010). Therefore, various leadership approaches become more challenging for female managers

Organizational culture is another important challenge to consider due to the fact that traditional leaders cannot fully adapt to the modern concept of diversity. Therefore, they tend to exclude women from key positions (Eagly & Chin, 2010). The given factor also creates a thick glass ceiling which makes it difficult for women to climb to upper management positions (Glass & Cook, 2016). In certain occasions, women may lack competence in specific fields due to the absence of proper supervision and guidance (Klenke, 2017). The given factor might be manifested in the fact that there is a gender inequality in educating and training female workers (Flick, 2015).

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Women are prone to experience significant challenges in the context of business and entrepreneurship (Gray, 2019). The factor of stereotyping women can hinder their ability to express an outstanding leadership behavior (Chin, 2011). In counseling and negotiations, there are also elements of stereotyping which constrains them in leading a successful negotiation process (Levitt, 2011). Thus, the latter notion decreases women’s overall performance in a number of industries.

The factor of discrimination of women is present across many nations. In India, gender inequality in the organizational environment alongside the local culture acts as a major factor diminishing the role of a woman as a leader (Swarup, 2014). In addition, New Zealand study shows that specific programs allow women to regain their self-confidence in order to properly perform in managerial positions in an organization (Harris & Leberman, 2012).

There is a problem of objectification of women’s bodies which can be a key a major factor in setting the perception of women inferiority (O’Neill, 2019). The given faulty perception is a form of sexism, which prevents women to acquire upper-management occupations (Ibarra, Carter, & Silva, 2010).

Gender inequality is also affected by women’s work and family problems, where they are in vulnerable position of duality, where they need to care of family and perform their male counterparts (Hideg & Shen, 2019). This issue is strengthened by the fact that stereotyping based on cultures and traditions is prevalent across all fields, such as politics and business (McLean & Beigi, 2016). These factors play a detrimental role in hindering women’s performance in management and their ability to reach higher positions.

Methods

The methodology used was primarily manifested in a systematic review of recent literature on women’s performance and participation in management and workplace. A number of sources were searched for the most relevant and important keywords regarding the subject. These keyword searches are summarized and presented in the table 1. Total of 123 articles and books on the subject were screened and overviewed, from which 16 sources were selected. Table 2 shows the frequency and type of databases used in the literature search.

Keyword search
“Women” AND “Leadership”
“Women” AND “Management”
“Women” AND “Discrimination”
“Women” AND “Career”

Table 1.

Databases Frequency
Google Scholar 51
SAGE Journals 32
Elsevier 17
Wiley Online Library 14
APA PsycNet 9

Table 2.

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Results

In order to obtain and analyze major challenges affecting women in management, the primary external factors were summarized and categorized into six classes, which are competence, perception, stereotyping, harassment, organizational culture, and gender inequality. The detailed information on each source and the external factor discussed are demonstrated in the table 3. In addition, table 4 shows how the given external factors and databases are correlated with each other. Inclusion/exclusion criteria are represented and demonstrated in the table 5 and the critical inclusion questions are listed in the table 6. The figure 1 demonstrates the flowchart of the study selection process. The result of the quality assessment process is presented in the table 7 and the research model is presented in the figure 2.

Authors Dependent factors Sample size Place Subjects External Factors
Ayman & Korabik, 2010 Performance 180 women India employees harassment
Brookes & Grint, 2010 Participation 135 women Nigeria employees stereotyping
Chin, 2011 Participation 85 women Florida employees stereotyping
Eagly & Chin, 2010 Performance 80 women New York employees organizational culture
Flick, 2015 Performance 85 women Arizona employees gender inequality
Glass & Cook, 2016 Performance 120 women New York employees organizational culture
Gray, 2019 Performance 90 women Italy employees organizational culture
Harris & Leberman, 2012 Participation 70 women New Zealand employees organizational culture
Hideg & Shen, 2019 Performance 95 women US employees gender inequality
Ibarra, Carter, & Silva, 2010 Participation 150 women New York employees perception
Klenke, 2017 Performance 110 women Virginia employees competence
Levitt, 2011 Performance 115 women US employees stereotyping
McLean & Beigi, 2016 Performance 100 women US employees stereotyping
O’Neill, 2019 Performance 110 women Chicago employees perception
Sanchez-Hucles & Davis, 2010 Performance 110 women US employees gender inequality
Swarup, 2014 Performance 85 women India employees gender inequality

Table 3.

External Factors Databases
SAGE Journals Wiley Online Library Google Scholar APA PsycNET Elsevier Total
Competence 0 0 1 0 0 1
Perception 1 0 1 0 0 2
Stereotyping 1 1 1 1 0 4
Harassment 0 0 0 1 0 1
Organizational culture 1 0 1 1 1 4
Gender inequality 2 0 1 1 0 4

Table 4.

Inclusion Criteria Exclusion Criteria
Should involve the factors and challenges that influence women in management Factors and challenges affecting women in management are not present
Should include possible causes of women discrimination in the workplace or organization Possible causes of discrimination are not present
The study must be in English Non-English sources

Table 5.

# Questions
1 Are the subject and goals being specifically targeted women in management?
2 Does the study specify factors and challenges affecting women in management?
3 Are data collection and analysis methods adequate?
4 Does the study contribute to the current knowledge?

Table 6.

Study Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Total Percentage
S1 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S2 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S3 1 1 1 0.5 3.5 87.5%
S4 1 1 0 0.5 2.5 62.5%
S5 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S6 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S7 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S8 1 1 1 0.5 3.5 87.5%
S9 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S10 1 1 0 0.5 2.5 62.5%
S11 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S12 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S13 1 1 1 1 4 100%
S14 1 1 1 0.5 3.5 87.5%
S15 1 1 1 0.5 3.5 87.5%
S16 1 1 1 1 4 100%

Table 7.

Flowchart of selected studies

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The following hypothesizes were generated:

  • H1a: Stereotyping has a negative effect on women’s participation in management.
  • H1b: Stereotyping has a negative effect on women’s participation in management
  • H1c: Stereotyping has a negative effect on women’s performance in management.
  • H1d: Stereotyping has a negative effect on women’s performance in management.
  • H2a: Discriminatory organizational culture hinders women’s performance in management.
  • H2b: Discriminatory organizational culture hinders women’s performance in management.
  • H2c: Discriminatory organizational culture hinders women’s performance in management.
  • H2d: Discriminatory organizational culture hinders women’s participation in management.
  • H3a: Gender inequality acts as barrier for women’s performance in management.
  • H3b: Gender inequality acts as barrier for women’s performance in management.
  • H3c: Gender inequality acts as barrier for women’s performance in management.
  • H3d: Gender inequality acts as barrier for women’s performance in management.
  • H4a: Discriminatory perception negatively affects women’s participation in management.
  • H4b: Discriminatory perception negatively affects women’s performance in management.
  • H5: The lack of competence hinders women’s performance in management.
  • H6: Harassment negatively affects women’s performance in management.

External Factors

Discussion

Gender discrimination in the world of work is a multilateral phenomenon with a large number of different manifestations. Nevertheless, some researchers are convinced that discrimination is becoming the norm, while others, on the contrary, deny the very fact of its existence on the basis of sex. It is necessary to analyze the degree of discrimination against women, that is, the extent and form of restriction of their rights in any sphere of public life, primarily industrial, but also family, social, political, spiritual. This approach aims to explore the mechanism of integration of women in the entire system of government, society, and the economy.

In fact, any social institution in whose activity the principle of gender equality is deliberately violated can act as a subject of violence. Social discrimination of women is most expediently investigated in a double plan. On the one hand, this is a social phenomenon that encompasses a large demographic community, consisting of various social, professional, age, and status groups. On the other hand, it is a social process with a successive change in the state of an object. Under the influence of external and internal conditions, objective and subjective factors, the process inherent in the sustainable interaction of female society with various social institutions and communities in order to achieve equal rights and opportunities, eliminate discrimination based on gender.

The forms of social discrimination of women, depending on the sphere of their activity, can be different. By its type, discrimination can be both violent and non-violent. In any case, the basis of discriminatory actions is violence against a woman’s personality. A sociological study of social discrimination against women is based on data from a number of particular sociological factors. Among them, the concept of gender identity, it reflects ideas about the field, and through their consciousness identified with it. Awareness of one’s gender does not always correspond to the biological characteristics of an individual.

The concept of gender ideals reflects public ideas about male and female behavior, in recent decades they have changed significantly. The category of biological sex means taking into account the primary and secondary characteristics typical of men and women. The concept of sexual role is associated with the division of labor, with the rights and obligations of the sexes.

The female leader feels the surrounding world more subtly, does not go to an open conflict, which can harm. In relation to the staff, she is more open than men, she does not seek to keep her distance. She may be interested not only in the work process, but also in her personal life. This allows you to make the relationship more trusting, more friendly, which has a beneficial effect on the results of the work. A woman leader treats subordinates with warmth and attention, since maternal instinct is inherent in any woman. Women govern with instruments of influence based on horizontal connections, and men with instruments of power.

Literary analysis has shown that there are few publications on gender management issues, all the more so when it comes to comparative analysis of gender theories. At the same time, the situation of women, who make up more than half of the population, reflects the state of society as a whole. Only recently, women began to actively occupy leadership positions, becoming the first persons of corporations, and even states.

The success of a woman as a leader and manager depends primarily on two factors – objective and subjective. The first is the efforts that the woman herself will make in order to achieve success in her career. The second is from stereotypes and views on it from the side and often from the side of men. That is, subjectively, a woman’s career will depend on the social and cultural environment in which the woman rotates, and in which her personality and business environment are formed. As noted above, in general, assessments of the perception of women were the result of many factors – religious, political, social.

The feminine principle was ontogenetically secondary and often subordinate to the masculine principle. In addition, it was the male sex who was the land owner and breadwinner, and this was also reflected in the legislation of that time. The birth of girls in the family was a painful and joyful event for the family and for its financial condition. The woman was completely subordinate to the man, both psychologically and economically.

However, over time, everything began to change. However, nevertheless, the introduction of legal equality and a certain change in social roles could not completely distort the traditional patriarchal views. From the results, it seems that men continue to occupy top management positions, and women could be content only with grassroots management. No one will deny the fact that a working woman is an everyday occurrence.

However, the female leader sometimes causes some inhabitants some doubt and not many women manage to stand on the top of the career ladder. The reason for this difference is that female and male labor are evaluated differently, due to stereotyping. Perhaps with leadership, one must combine intuition, rigidity and diplomacy, adhere to ethical standards and be philanthropic.

Gender features of the management style are very relevant issues in the psychology of management due to the fact that positive trends are currently emerging. When hiring a manager, they began to give preference to women, because, unlike men, who are characterized by a low level of empathy and communication skills, conservatism, aggressiveness. Women not only unite employees, show sympathy, but also know how to motivate them to perform difficult tasks in critical situations (Gray, 2019).

Gender features of managerial activity are the characteristics of men and women leaders, manifested in the implementation of the main managerial functions, in the types and types of managerial decision-making, and the specificity of response to the impact of psychological factors of activity. Management style is a relatively stable system of methods, methods and forms of influence of a leader on subordinates in accordance with the goals of joint activities.

At the same time, in the analysis of managerial literature, the overwhelming majority of works clearly show latent discrimination against women. It is believed that the manager and specialist is necessarily a man, and the assessment of personality behavior, analysis of managerial situations, recommendations for the development of managerial decisions are given precisely from male positions. Moreover, the peculiarities of a woman’s reaction to the external environment, the motivation of her actions, and personal characteristics are considered extremely limited. The reasons lie in the patriarchal views on the role of women, rooted in the mass consciousness.

For centuries, a man raised the primary perception of a woman as the guardian of the hearth, the teacher of children and the hostess in the kitchen. Each new appearance of a woman in management is presented as a sensation. At the same time, economic instability, periods of recessions and booms predetermine the inevitability of a change in ideas about effective management.

It can be speculated that women quickly gain experience managing firms in situations of uncertainty. To counter stiff competition in modern conditions has become possible thanks to the involvement of women leaders practicing managerial style. This was mainly expressed in the development of more flexible forms of management oriented to an ever-changing situation. The introduction of a new mentality, style, methods inherent in the female management style into the renewed management has contributed to increasing the competitiveness of products through the search for the optimal combination of male and female management.

Differences in the hierarchy of values, behavior, motivation between men and women are manifested in the desire to organize the management process in different ways. A woman is considered as a more effective leader in the areas of staff motivation, communication and in the decision-making process. Speaking about the potential of women managers in management, it is important to note a number of features that confirm that the female management style is much richer. Firstly, a woman reacts more subtly to the moral and psychological climate in the team, relies on attention technology. Secondly, a woman is inclined to resolve a conflict situation, to experience the possible outcome of events.

The ever-changing change in social relations in the economy has led to serious problems in the employment of women, especially with regard to their career growth. Thus, the ongoing exclusion of women from the field of intellectual work, the employment of women in various sectors of the economy without formal employment, and discrimination against women in the workplace have determined the low level of women in the management sphere, and this despite the fact that working women make up a significant part of the working population. It is well known that professional activity is one of the main areas of personal self-realization.

In professional activities, a person reveals and shows his skills, communicative and professional qualities. It is this activity that allows a person to be a special individuality, to achieve recognition of their originality and originality, significance for other people and for society as a whole.

A professional career should be considered as a process of self-realization of an individual in his main and socially significant sphere – in the form of a person moving from one professional status to another. This shows the special role of the individual and the mandatory coordination of the needs and capabilities of the individual with the competencies and qualification requirements of the profession. On the one hand, this means that a person was able to realize himself, and on the other, the fact that his activity was highly appreciated. In this regard, a career is of great importance in the professional development of an individual.

Career is an activity of conscious implementation of professional advancement, as a result of which a status appears that guarantees an acceptable level of social and professional recognition. The specifics of women’s professional career are the presence of sex-role stereotypes that affect the degree of manifestation of their career activity, as well as the personal characteristics of women, which result in the efforts made by them in the process of professional and career growth.

Moreover, these efforts are the main components of women’s readiness to pursue a career. However, it is necessary to take into account the fact that not all women strive for leadership in the professional sphere. For some women, professional career and professional growth are in first place among life strategies and values, while for another part of women, work is supportive. This category of women does not seek to occupy a higher position, leadership positions, they self-actualize themselves in the family, they are quite satisfied with their position and salary. Thus, it is not possible to consider all women as a social group that has certain characteristics.

Modern employers prefer career-oriented women to work for them, and of course, it is not beneficial for them to have workers like mothers. The image of a housewife in society is supported mainly by men and is firmly fixed by the media. On the contrary, in professional activities a woman overcomes a huge number of difficulties. These can be difficulties of both a socio-economic and political nature, such as a personnel management policy that limits the professional growth of women.

This includes non-recognition of professional qualities by colleagues, unemployment, and fierce competition from men. Considering professional activity, it should be said about the self-realization of the personality, which is perceived as the realization of individual and personal capabilities of a person in his creative activity. A person realizes his own potential, a combination of knowledge, skills, creative abilities and abilities, as he realizes his significance, has goals of activity and methods of its implementation. The problem of professional self-realization is determined by the growth of requirements for professional activity and the growth of human attention to the expansion of their capabilities.

A professional career for men and women is built in different ways, therefore, it is necessary to determine the competitive qualities of women, the style of their leadership, and the urgent problems of women leaders. Currently, a woman has the right to choose the most attractive orientation to her family, professional or social activities. However, women’s leadership in real production continues to be quite low, due to some problems.

Firstly, the gender asymmetry has developed in the economy, with guaranteed equal rights for men and women in management, women, unfortunately, do not have equal opportunities with men to engage in leadership activities. On the one hand, asymmetry is associated with objective difficulties in managing enterprises, and on the other, it is determined by patriarchal stereotypes of society.

Secondly, it is an entrenched patriarchal-conservative view of the leadership profession as a purely masculine one. It is worth paying attention to the fact that all the names of leadership positions are masculine and it becomes clear why a woman has to overcome a great many barriers to career growth in order to occupy the position of head of the organization. The modern world of business involves a masculine manner of behavior and lifestyle, and it is difficult for men to perceive women with power. Professionally independent women constantly come to grips with the male desire for excellence and the stereotypes that exist in society about female abilities.

It turns out that women are forced to show their business qualities hundreds of times more to be taken seriously. In this regard, the man himself is changing, with whom the fate of a prosperous wife is connected and there is a change in the principles for the redistribution of responsibilities in the household. Consequently, it can be stated that women have great difficulties in promoting their ranks. The success of a career in many respects depends on herself, on her personal qualities, on the ability to deal with stereotypical thinking in society. The reality is that women achieve success in work not as a result of copying the male management style, but through the use of their abilities, which provide a competitive advantage for women leaders over men.

One of the most important qualities is the industriousness of women, the ability to complete the work that has been started and to take responsibility, which is explained by the maternal instinct. Female executives are better oriented towards users of the products of their enterprise, towards new services that the market needs. The flexibility and diplomacy of women, combined with perseverance, allows them to more effectively build relationships with business partners and find mutual understanding and support. Femininity, charm, logic, developed intuition are often used by women leaders to solve the most complex and promising areas.

Women managers can also be distinguished from men by greater democracy, willingness to cooperate and collective decision-making with skillful distribution of responsibilities between subordinates. Women leaders are probably more law-abiding, which leads to the establishment of constructive relations with authorities (Levitt, 2011). A detailed and thoughtful approach to solving problems, attention to detail, excellent friendship with numbers – all these qualities help female leaders to perceive and analyze details perfectly.

Thus, modern working women need to make maximum personal efforts to create real competition for men in the managerial labor market. An important role in the promotion of a specialist in the career ladder is played by the style of his communication with colleagues, and in the future, the style of leadership over them. Researchers study the similarities and differences between male and female leadership styles, and they often disagree (Gray, 2019).).

The traditional view is that women choose relationship-oriented leadership because they are more emotional in nature and male leadership is characterized by perseverance and determination. There are only some features of the male and female leadership style, which are determined by the difference in the psychological structure of personality in men and women. A woman effectively implements both survival strategies and development strategies, determining more cautious relationships with her colleagues and partners and, most importantly, avoiding risk strategies. The success of a woman in her career almost always changes the psychological microclimate of the family, as her authority as a mother and wife increases.

The first and most significant advantage is the high educational potential of women. In terms of education, women can lead in both higher and secondary vocational education. Female intuition, combined with a tendency to double-check information through various sources, allows you to choose the most favorable from a variety of decisions, understand the partnership, and evaluate the prospects of starting work. Compared to men, women can be distinguished by greater organization, determination and consistency, which provide women leaders with the opportunity to perfectly notice and take into account any trifles in their work. Sociability is expressed in the fact that women managers use feedback opportunities better than men, they tend to trust behavior, they quickly adapt to changing conditions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is highly important to understand that factors and challenges affecting women’s performance and participation in management is comprised of multitude of forces. These can include gender and sex-based discrimination, such as stereotyping, harassment, gender inequality, perceived incompetence, and organizational culture. Most industries either do not provide sufficient knowledge and training to women or do not allow them to reach the upper-management and supervisory positions.

References

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Brookes, S., & Grint, K. (2010). A new public leadership challenge? London, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chin, J. L. (2011). Women and leadership: Transforming visions and current contexts. Forum on Public Policy Online, 1-12.

Eagly, A. H., & Chin, J. L. (2010). Diversity and leadership in a changing world. American Psychologist, 65(3), 216-224.

Flick, U. (2015). Introducing research methodology: A beginner’s guide to doing a research project. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Limited.

Glass, C., & Cook, A. (2016). Leading at the top: Understanding women’s challenges above the glass ceiling. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(1), 51-63.

Gray, D. E. (2019). Doing research in the business world. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Limited.

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Hideg, I., & Shen, W. (2019). Why still so few? A theoretical model of the role of benevolent sexism and career support in the continued underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 26(3), 287-303.

Ibarra, H., Carter, N. M., & Silva, C. (2010). Why men still get more promotions than women. Harvard Business Review, 1-7.

Klenke, K. (2017). Women in leadership: Contextual dynamics and boundaries (2nd ed.). Bingley, England: Emerald Publishing Limited.

Levitt, D. H. (2011). Women and leadership: A developmental paradox. Adultspan Journal, 9(2), 66-75.

McLean, G. N., & Beigi, M. (2016). The importance of worldviews on women’s leadership to HRD. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 18(2), 260-270.

O’Neill, C. (2019). Unwanted appearances and self-objectification: The phenomenology of alterity for women in leadership. Leadership, 15(3), 296-318.

Sanchez-Hucles, J. V., & Davis, D. D. (2010). Women and women of color in leadership: Complexity, identity, and intersectionality. American Psychologist, 65(3), 171-181.

Swarup, V. (2014). Women in leadership roles in public sector. NHRD Network Journal, 7(3), 82-85.

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