Women in Leadership

America has witnessed a remarkable wave in the women’s movement that has put forward over the last two decades a bold vision of social radical change and stimulated the global community to react. The altering status of women in American society during the last two decades has been clearly apparent in family life, employment, education, politics and other spheres across the nation. Yet, there is the contention that professional women in the United States are underutilized. “Sexual static”- the anger and discomfort men feel working with women in new roles – is one of the numerous theories that explains female underutilization in the United States. Research on the underutilization of women in the United States, Britain, Japan, and the European countries suggests that many of America’s global competitors are beginning to realize the value of their professional women in economic, social and political terms (Carroll 2003, p.64).  This paper is designed to help women see the opportunity for upward mobility and success in any sphere that they are qualified to participate in. For organizations that still have not received the wakeup call, this paper may be useful.BodyThe total defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution in 1982 truly disappointed the feminist leaders who had created and led “women’s movement” brought to public notice in the 1960s and 1970s. But this failure should not obscure the fact that the participation of women as leaders in American society has risen considerably within a period of the last two decades. The main cause of this changing position of women, which has made different both their conception of themselves and the way society views them, is their leadership and mass participation in movements that address broad humanistic/nurturing issues such as peace, environmentalism, public education, prison reform, mental health care, and nursing homes. As a result, today there are more opportunities open to women – in family life, employment, education, legislation, and politics – than at any period in the past. And this liberation and freedom to choose from a number of alternatives has brought with it extreme changes in the way modern Americans, both women and men, can live their lives.From what origin, then, came all of these new opportunities for women and their following rise in status? Because most of these opportunities have traditionally been the prerogative belonging to men, the process of developing the same opportunities for women has included the demand for the state of being equal, a demand expressed by the feminist leaders of what became a movement for women’s rights that has undergone spiritual regeneration. It was their movement that caused a profound social change.Many researchers point out women’s alleged absence from political and social involvement (Carroll 2003, pp. 36-45). Scholars are now beginning to admit that women are actively involved politically in ways that are seldom acknowledged or recorded as political activity or social protest – for instance, by taking part through churches, clubs, and other establishments. Besides the women’s public elections and liberation movements, considerable numbers of women are involved in nearly all social movements in the United States such as temperance, health reform, peace, progressivism and municipal reform, and civil rights. As a rule, oriented women described these activities as the act of extending of their nurturing and caring in the home. An interesting instance is that of the “Club Movement” of the late nineteenth century, which, as Sapiro (1994) explains, was “instrumental in establishing the early framework for public social welfare programs through their work in health, education, poverty relief, and municipal reform” (p. 246). White women leaders attempted to influence legislators pushing local and state governments to accept public position of being responsible for social welfare. In much the same way, the national club movement of black female leaders that emerged in the late nineteenth century created new resources and chances for various collective actions to better the lives of black communities in the United States (Griffin 1998, pp. 23-29).Women have also come into view as political protestors out of their historic ties with religious organizations and principles. Fixed and firmly held religious beliefs have stimulated and strengthened protest activities for both black and white women through American history (Giddings 1984, p. 102). Many white Victorian women who participated in social reform movements believed that God had ordered them to move into the public activity to insist upon their public voices on behalf of racial, class, and other unjust acts. In much the same way, black women in the abolitionist, antilynching, civil rights, and welfare rights movements, among others, were encouraged by their religious beliefs and claimed that their political roles are right as the orders of their God. Smith-Rosenberg (1986, p. 22) also removes the cover from this “lost world of female leadership” in women’s religiously based activities and puts an end to the myths constructed by men of “women as passive victims without resources isolated in a world of powerful men” (1986, p. 25). Protest for many women was and is an inventive mode of opposition to what they regard as the unjust consequences of men’s rules and domination.In labor struggles, men’s predominance helps to explain the lower presented rate of female acts of protest. Despite the fact that working women and wives of working men have actively participated in labor activities, their large contributions have only recently been discussed.Modern feminist movements in which women are collectively and importantly involved can be classified into four major types:Type 1. In the first place, women participate as leaders in planned and controlled struggles on a large scale involving many people to attack problems that directly are a threat to their economic well-being and that of their families and children. Most often, cross-nationally, these women are involved at the local and community levels around day-to-day issues such as obtaining food, financial and other assistance, jobs, housing, and other necessities – participating in food rebellions, welfare statements, labor struggles, tenants rights, and similar collective movements.Type 2. Women also organize or take part in social protests that deal with nationalist or racial/ethnic issues. They participate either in movements demanding liberation or equal rights, or in countermovements demanding protection against destruction of the status quo and the threatened deprivation of rights. Historical instances are women who participated in revolutionary movements in Latin American, Asian, African, and European countries, as well as women in right-wing acts to cause to continue apartheid and Pinochet- and Marcos-like social achievements. In addition, one can find women in abolition and civil movements as well as right-wing women in the Ku Klux Klan and anti-busing movements in the United States (Carroll 2003, p. 62).Type 3. Women are leaders in movements that deal with important humanistic/education issues such as support for international peace, environmentalism, public education for all, prison improvement and change, mental health care, and nursing homes. Women have motivation that their collective activities in the public “male” sphere are a realization of their nurturing responsibilities within the domestic sphere to include entirely national and global “families” (Carroll 2003, p. 84).Type 4. Probably most substantially, women are agitators regarding their own rights as women and different groups of women (domestic violence, older women, teenage mothers, child brides, and others). These women participate in movements at both the national and international levels.From 1985 to 2000, the number of women in the legislature grew steadily. Female committee chairs tend to be found for the most part heading human services, family, and health committees. The committees also are composed in considerable proportion by other women.For example, women in Arizona and California politics made history in the 1998 elections. “It’s a Woman’s World” in Arizona, stated the Los Angeles Times, for women had just been elected to the top five statewide offices—governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction (Cart 1998). In California, a record number of women, ten, had been chosen to be public officials, pushing the state legislature as a whole above the national typical amount for percentage of women for the first time. “Women, ” a Los Angeles Times headline announced, will “play largest role ever in [the] legislature” (Pyle 1998). In 1994, women in Ohio took some of the state’s most efficient in action political offices – speaker, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and main committee chairs. Women are also organizing coalitions and alliances to strengthen their political position.The above-described women-centered political consciousness reflects the transitional stage at which women find themselves today. Their long-term imprint on leadership practices seems has thus far been considerable because of real power.Why then organizations still do not look to women as leaders and why women are still so scarce in top management? Maybe this is the paradox of gender or maybe women lead differently than men? Many researchers made efforts to answer this question. Whicker and Jewell (1998) find that women at all levels of state legislative leadership, more than men, show a consensus style rather than a command and control style (p. 59). Carroll’s  (2003, p. 105) examination of leadership styles of state legislative committee chairs indicates that women chairs pay more attention than men do on getting the job done and doing it in a team-oriented manner rather than relying on positional authority or raw power. Together, these authors came to conclusion that women who have leadership positions make a difference in the way legislative business is done. The discussion about women’s qualities to change the legislative arena generates some dispute, however. Researcher Adair (2002) indicates that women officeholders have a greater tendency than men toward willingness to assist, communication, coalition building, and assisting the progress. Kathlene (1999) gives evidence, however, that women’s full inclusion into the process or a change in the process itself may still be hindered by backlash and passivity. She indicates that the intricate interactions of gender, structure, norms, and rules suggest that should women make an effort to alter the process, it will take more than winning increasing numbers in office and in leadership.If at least 80 percent of top executive positions are held by men, either there are very few professional women worthy of holding such positions or women having sufficient skills and knowledge are being overlooked. It is clear that it is not the first case, since there is a large number of trained and experienced professional women in the United States. That leaves one with the second assumption: for some reason, the abilities of these women are being underutilized. Possibly the clearest assertion that women represent an underutilized economic resource was made by John Collins, former chairman and chief executive of Shell U.K. In a written statement to employees he wrote, “For too long macho management has been hailed as the only way to run things, and that has put women at a disadvantage, with their abilities measured against criteria set by men. This has been a tremendous waste of talent – something that business can no longer afford” (Carroll 2003, p. 201).Despite the new assessment of the true value of the interactive leadership style and the increasing emphasis on the significance of human resource utilization, the paradox of gender prevents modern companies from seeing the extremely large not yet used pool of women leaders that can contribute to economic competitiveness. Companies that refuse to notice the competitive advantage women represent do so at their own peril. A few companies are beginning to link the gender dispute with economic competitive ability. It is obvious that as more women become lawyers, doctors, CPAs, and principal teachers, they represent an important market for all kinds of good and services. Not any more can Cadillac and Lexus dealers think they will be making and selling their cars only to men. Notwithstanding, female sales managers are still occurring seldom in the automobile business.As female preferences become larger factors that influence consumer behavior, companies recognize that women executives must be given a leading role in determining how goods and services should be made and produced for sale. No longer can law and CPA companies suppose that their customers will be male or that only men will determine what company should represent their organization in court or deal with their taxes. No longer can advertising organizations think that it will be only men who will determine what ad campaign to consider good. No longer can specialists suppose that it will be only men who will decide who gets an agreement. Therefore, soon more and more organizations will accept the fact that they need the decision-making abilities of women not only as a necessary tool for succeeding in the women’s market but as a way to make themselves more competitive in today’s economy.Female talent is a resource unique to America. No other nation in the world has a worthy of comparison supply of professional women waiting to be leaders. Women are “doing” leadership in two ways. First, women in general specialize in what organizational psychologist Arlie Hochschild (1995, p. 105) calls “emotional labor.” Women have a talent to manage feeling and produce a proper state of mind in other people. The modern service industry, rather than being based on physical labor, is based chiefly on emotion management. For example, services in large part are purchased and evaluated based on the feelings and sensations they evoke. Therefore, women have more opportunities than men in jobs calling for emotional labor.ConclusionToday women’s activism for social and political change throughout the world is widely documented. Women as a group come jointly at a time of economic or political trouble to break down anything that prevents them from getting the fundamental needs for survival. Historically, the major problem for women, taking into account their traditional role within the family and social life, has been to find ways to provide food, shelter, and clothe to their families within patriarchal, racist, and classism repressions. Women shifted boundaries in all organizations. The political sphere, as feminists have redefined it, becomes increasingly gender-integrated. National political and business conditions are increasingly encouraging. Modern organizations are no longer hierarchical pyramids with most of the real regulation at the top. They are systems – interrelated webs in which control is loose, power is distributed, and centers of decision are composed of more than one person. It seems clear that companies that are composed of alliances and networks would hire managers who are comfortable sharing information. It seems clear that companies operating in global context would hire managers who appreciate cultural and gender diversity. Since these are the leadership characteristics that women display, it seems clear that such companies would turn to women leaders. Women have attributes of the interactive leadership style that is in particular effective in flexible, nonhierarchical companies of the kind that perform best in a climate of rapid change of modern world.ReferencesAdair, John. (2002). Inspiring Leadership: Learning from Great Leaders. Thorogood: London.Arlie Hochschild, “Ideals of Care: Traditional, Postmodern, Cold-Modern and Warm-Mod- ern,” Social Politics (Fall 1995).Carroll, Susan J. (2003). 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