Leadership is a complicated concept, many people are familiar with the term yet so unfamiliar with what it really is. What I mean is that when we talk about leadership, what comes to our minds instantly is taking up those big positions in the organizations, companies or higher institutions. On the other hand, leadership is about having the capacity and the grip to make concrete decisions and to affect changes. Interesting thing about it is that it is a role that can be taken just by all genders and not only men, so long as you have the mastery to hold and assume power over others.
Let us talk about female leadership at the workplace. As we continue to make progress in gender equality at workplaces, female representation in leadership continues to be a case of concern. Women are underrepresented in leadership and management levels, majorly because of the stereotype that men do better in senior positions than women. This does not only affect the productivity and performance but also the culture of the entities at hand. Having women in the senior positions can help the organizations to have deeper connections with the customers and also inspire other women employees to take up the roles at management levels.
Women have limited opportunities in cultures that are dominated by male chauvinism. The jobs that are available for them in such a setting are those regarded as ’“less masculine” such as stewardesses, waitresses or secretaries that have few to almost no opportunity for advancement to greater positions. Male chauvinist workplace barely acknowledges the presence and efforts of women in the workplace. However, women have made enormous strides in the male dominated industries and are excelling in the leadership roles.
It is therefore important for the organizations to put in place policies and take responsibility in closing the gap between male and female leaders by intentionally creating leadership opportunities for women.
Women have faced greater barriers than men have when it comes to fully participating in the senior roles at the workplace. The disparity between men and women still persists in the form of payment gaps, uneven opportunities for advancement and imbalanced representation in important decision making. How well can we tackle these barriers to bring about equality and diversity in the workplace?
Creating leadership opportunities
Intentionally creating leadership opportunities for women at the workplace. Organizations need to find easier ways for women to remain at the top - level positions and this can only be applicable if those positions are intentionally set aside for women.
In 2010 during the formation of a new constitution in Kenya, the government came up with a 2/3 gender rule which ruled out that the national assembly and the senate should not have more than two- thirds of their members from one gender. Over the past years one gender was overly represented in the parliament which resulted to the marginalization of the other gender. But since the existence of this rule, we have seen women rising and taking charge of the higher seats in the elective bodies and in political settings that were initially identified as the “male territory”.
Gender neutral selection
Having gender neutral selection procedures. Research shows that during the hiring process both men and women tend to choose a man over a woman when both are qualified. To deal with this, the process has to be redesigned to be gender neutral.
Mentoring and coaching for women
Providing mentoring and coaching for women with leadership potential. Mentorship programs are effective when it comes to leadership diversities and organizations should embrace it.
Benefits of having female leadership
So, why is female leadership important? Let us look at the benefits of having female leadership in the workplace.
Women are rising to the moment as stronger leaders and taking on the extra work that comes with this. They are doing more to support their teams, advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within an organization.
Women unify diverse groups – they encourage the existence of different people with different interests and characteristics. This means understanding every persons’ uniqueness and identifying their individual distinctions.
Women have qualities such as compassion, patience to listen to others and democratic approach to solve issues. These qualities make women a preferred choice for leadership at the workplace.
In matters of building relationships, female leaders are consistently rated higher than their male counterparts are. Being skilled in building in-house relationships, women are also quite likely to do well at building outside relationships, in creating new clients or negotiating difficult contracts for the company they lead. Ability to communicate with people is a fundamental need to become a successful leader.
Accountability is another leadership quality that women have. When leading a family, they often come forward to shoulder the accountability for any disruption with an intention to keep the family bonding intact. Such quality of women, when put into practice while leading an organization, society or country, works miraculously.