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  • Jessie I.

Possible reasons why there are still fewer female leaders

Updated: May 30

Inequality is an ongoing topic. In this post we will discuss why there might be actually more female leaders than we used to believe.


plenty of female birds in a row

Females may not be interested so much in leading

According to Eagly, Karau, Makhijani (1995) men excel in men related industries and so do women. This may also support the conclusion of the study of Van Vainen & Fischer(2002) as people in general regardless of their gender will be more likely to perform better if they are given the opportunity to deal with job tasks that are aligned with their personal interests. There are many examples of women in what is considered to be typically male oriented roles that achieve great accomplishments and this is due to their hard work and persistence to continue working and improving a skill they have taken interest in and not due to their sex. So, if women are interested in helping others regardless of their position being a leader may not necessarily be their aim.


Family might be a priority

Another research states that women are less suitable than men for higher positions because women are less ambitious and less interested in competitive pay or organizational status according to Van Vainen & Fischer ( 2002). This sounds like a man would say that but lets look at it into more detail. Firstly, women tend to underestimate themselves and to compete with others may mean to acquire skills that are not natural to them, whereas caring for the family and looking after children is an instinct that does not need any external acquiring. The research of Powell & Butterfield(1989) supports this by expressing that women have to learn skills typically associated with men in order to succeed. Secondly, Shery Sandberg talked in her book how often women will avoid taking up opportunities at work because they are planning to start a family.


There are more female entrepreneurs

Statistics show that within the top 500 companies there are hardly any female CEOs. However, for the past decade the number of female business owners has increased dramatically to 36% in 2019 from 4.6% in 1976 according to JPMorgan Chase and Co. research. The research was based on US companies only. Although the research does not represent the situation globally it is a good indicator of the trend that women become leaders by starting up their own business ventures. In addition, 46.4% of private ventures in Ghana are owned by females and In 2017, women of color amounted to 71% of the new start-ups in the United States. Being a woman and one of color can be very disadvantageous position in the labor market. So the numbers reveal that perhaps to cope with the marginalization women start their own companies in order to avoid direct employee competition and to focus on providing the services and skills they are good at, or simply they need more flexible schedules to allow time for childcare, as a lot of the companies may not be able to provide family oriented work benefits.


To sum up, apart from discrimination other reasons why females may not show up in the statistics can be that they are not interested in those roles as they prefer other roles, they might consider their family a priority and that may conflict with their work commitments. Most importantly, those that are looking for more flexibility and opportunities to be leaders tend to freelance or start their own companies and they become leaders but are not reflected in the statistics.

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