According to Eagly and Carli (2007), research indicates that whole organizations and generations of people within the workforce have been programmed to view women in leadership is a very different capacity when compared to men in the same role. Based on this evidence one could argue that culture within the United States and within organizations must change to promote equal opportunity, wages, and leadership roles for women in the workplace; the way we think and see women must change.
In an effort to individually combat the glass ceiling affect or leadership labyrinth female leaders are encountering, women leaders can network with other leaders, both men and women, in the same industry and organization. The ability to secure a leadership role, or any role, is largely based on the candidates ability to sell themselves during the interview and qualification period. In addition, having a solid set of references that can vouch for your ability to do the work and to be the right person for the role can help to increase your chances of getting the job.
According to Eagly and Carli (2007), female candidates can help the chances and themselves by getting involved with mentoring. Candidates that have a mentor, when the appropriate mentor is selected, can get access to the boardroom and all it has to offer, including politics and insights into behaviors and opportunities, without actually working in the board room. Again, this suggestion is more along the lines of knowing someone that can help you hone your skills and behaviors in a way that makes them more attractive to potential jobs.
Eagly, A and Carli, L. (2007). Women and the labyrinth of leadership. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved https://hbr.org/2007/09/women-and-the-labyrinth-of-leadership
The leadership labyrinth is brought forth by the maze of three areas: human capital, gender differences, and prejudice (Northouse, 2018).These three areas of the labyrinth are varied and subjective. Women can navigate the labyrinth many different ways. When organizations do promote women into key leadership positions change can occur. Once women have a seat at the table, they can speak up for women in the workforce and diversify the thought processes (Northouse, 2018). That expectation is a lot to put onto someone, but often those first few to break through barriers strive to help those who come after them. Part of diversifying the organization includes implementing policies that aid in creating leadership opportunities for all employees. My organization incorporates external leadership development programs for career development. Some of these programs focus on categories of workers who often don’t have the representation and opportunity of experience that others might. We also have many employee resource groups for employees who share a common life experience and those who want to support to come together and create visibility. One of the many resources groups is a women’s’ group.
Another way organizations can help to disband the labyrinth is valuing diversity of thought and life. This can come from have different genders making decisions. Stereotypical female behaviors such as nurturing, warmth, or friendliness should not be considered weak (Northouse, 2018). Different situations and people require different styles. Along with this, a woman who is strong and decisive is often thought of as too hard. A man with that style would be thought of as strong. Removing gender stereotypes from these behaviors and seeing them as the traits and behaviors they are brings value to them all.
It is the responsibility of organizations and individuals to diversify the representation of leadership from gender and other perspectives. Organizations need to actively create opportunities and ensure their current opportunities do not weed out capable women and minority employees unnecessarily. Again, this goes to valuing diverse viewpoints. Getting away from the “norm” and becoming comfortable with a new way is how organizations can improve. We are seeing now as so many people are forced to work from home due to the pandemic. My co-workers constantly have their kids come ask a question in the middle of a meeting. Historically, that would be frowned upon, but it is our current reality. I also believe it is up to individuals to prepare themselves for opportunities. Employees should take advantage of programs that will help them further their education and experience to get the leadership roles they want. If both employees and organizations have the goal of diversifying leadership, both will succeed.
Northouse, P. (2018). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. www.ashford.edu
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