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Contemporary Issues in Management: Gender and Leadership Essay

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Updated: Jan 12th, 2020


Issues associated with gender and leadership have been discussed for several decades though the debate on the matter is still on-going. Researchers note that the rate of female leaders is steadily increasing worldwide but male leaders significantly outnumber female leaders (Virick & Greer 2012; Page 2011). It is also important to note that researchers’ attention has not decreased and they consider the issue focusing on a variety of aspects. Thus, researchers look into the correlation between culture and gender ratio in the business world.

Leadership in such spheres as business, governmental and union organisations, health care and education obtain considerable attention. Researchers also analyse successful stories of effective female leaders and reveal major trends in management and leadership. It is necessary to add that different methodologies and approaches are used to address the issue. However, some questions remain unanswered and a bunch of gaps is yet to be filled.

Major Topics Considered

In the first place, it is important to consider the scope of topics analysed. Admittedly, similarities and differences between male and female leadership still get a lot of attention. At that, Kent, Blair and Rudd (2010) state that gender does not affect leadership behaviours. The researchers claim that female and male leaders are equally effective. Moreover, female and male leaders can equally contribute to the development of an organisation (Timberlake 2005).

However, it is still clear that males are reluctant to lose their leading positions and female leaders have to face the ‘glass ceiling’ in the contemporary society. Wang and Kelan (2013) report that even though there is a quota in Norway, the number of female leaders increases surprisingly insignificantly. Even though legislation secures rights of women and ensures they have equal opportunities, development of female leadership is still rather insignificant.

Researchers also note that culture affects empowerment of women. Thus, Van Emmerik, Wendt and Euwema (2009) emphasise that societal culture has a considerable impact on gender ratio within organisations. Interestingly, less effective male leaders are less likely to choose a female as their successor if diversity climate is unfavourable, though effective male leaders tend to choose females as their successors irrespective of the atmosphere within the organisation.

It is necessary to add that the researchers define diversity climate as “collective perceptions of the extent to which an organization is viewed as having fair employee policies and integrates underrepresented individuals into the work environment” (Virick and Greer 2012, p. 577).

Importantly, Block and Crawford (2013) emphasise persistence of stereotypes which prevent development of female leadership. Snaebjornsson and Edvardsson (2013) claim that such concepts as nationality; gender and leadership styles are interrelated. Therefore, female leadership faces a lot of obstacles globally.

Apart from generalising, researchers consider gender issues in specific spheres. For instance, female leadership is increasing in the sphere of public services in the UK. Remarkably, Anderson et al. (2006, p. 555) focus on female leadership in the British Army stressing that women are characterised by “interpersonally oriented leadership style”.

The number of women leaders in organisations is still insignificant compared to the rate of women in the labour movement. At the same time, the researchers stress that female leadership can contribute greatly to the development of unions.

The spheres of health care and education have also acquired a lot of attention. Lantz (2008) notes that female leaders are not numerous in the sphere of health care though 40% of work force in this field is constituted by women. It is necessary to note that leadership in education has acquired significant attention but there is still gender bias and females do not want to be leaders. Women tend to remain team workers. Even women, who are active and often come up with effective solutions, tend to be subordinate to less active male leaders.

Wayne, Vermillion and Uijtdehaage (2010) state that females should be encouraged to strive for leading positions as women can contribute to development of organisations though they remain rather inactive. Reynolds (2011) also claims that it is crucial to encourage females to become leaders and education should play the core role in this process. Young females should understand that they are able to make the difference and they should long for leading positions instead of withholding their ideas and remaining in the shadow.

Swan, Stead and Elliott (2009) contribute to the analysis of the role of learning in gender diversity and leadership by identifying the gap in leadership learning and outlining the role feminist approach can play in education. Teachers should affect development of gender leadership awareness and provide an account of several female leaders’ experience. Clearly, gender and leadership have become a disputable issue and researchers consider numerous spheres, though there are still a number of gaps.

Major Gaps in the Field

Some researchers have touched the correlation between nationality and leadership. However, numerous questions remain unanswered. First of all, little attention is paid to particular nationalities or regional differences in gender leadership trends. For instance, researchers have touched the correlation between societal culture and gender leadership.

Nonetheless, it can be useful to consider the way cultural peculiarities affect people in different countries. Diversity is one of the major characteristics of the contemporary world. Therefore, it can be beneficial to look into leadership behaviours of Asian and Arabic women in western countries. Furthermore, it is possible to trace female leadership (of western as well as Asian and Arabic women) in Asian and Arabic countries.

It is also possible to pay more attention to particular spheres or even departments within organisations. Researchers should identify the rate of female leaders in different industries, organisations and companies. This can help to reveal factors contributing to development of female leadership.

It is also necessary to examine similarities in leadership behaviours in different fields. Researchers can consider particular experiences of successful female leaders. This will enable scholars to reveal specific factors that positively affect development of female leadership or even certain qualities effective female leaders should have to succeed.

The role of education has acquired a lot of attention, but it is still necessary to develop specific strategies which can be utilised to encourage females to occupy leading positions. Admittedly, such aspects as nationality, cultural background, peculiarities of an industry should be taken into account during development of these strategies.


It is also necessary to pay special attention to methodology. Researchers resort to numerous methods and analyse qualitative as well as quantitative data. The articles reviewed can be grouped into three categories.

The majority of articles are based on literature review. Thus, researchers review scholarly articles and articles in mass media. This approach helps to reveal major trends existing in the contemporary society. It is easy to trace concerns and aspirations of people in different spheres. Researchers also consider the way the issue is approached. Importantly, literature reviews help to identify gaps in the study. Nonetheless, this approach is characterised by a number of limitations.

For instance, researchers focus on specific topics and can leave out some important sources. When it comes to secondary research, there are chances that researchers provide erroneous conclusions or distorted data. Finally, it can be difficult to trace all the trends existing in the world as researchers often review articles written in one language (e.g. English). At the same time, different regions are characterised by different trends.

The second group of articles is characterised by analysis of statistical data. For instance, Anderson et al. (2006) analyse statistic data received from the assessment centre. Other researchers use data obtained from several surveys held in the 1990-2000s (Lantz 2008; Kaminski & Yakura 2008). This approach is effective for identifying precise numbers and rates. Thus, researchers acquire substantial quantitative data for their analysis.

Again, it is possible to trace a variety of trends existing in the society. Nonetheless, this approach still has certain limitations. First of all, it is difficult to cover all regions and all strata of the society. Moreover, generalisation is often associated with proximity and distorted data. Finally, quantitative data cannot be enough for developing certain strategies and solutions as it is difficult to explain factors which led to this or that trend.

Some researchers focus on qualitative research methods. Questionnaires and interviews help researchers to analyse numerous trends as people explain their choices. This approach enables researchers to acquire substantial data on people’s attitudes towards numerous situations. Though, the approach also has some limitations. First, it can be hard to generalise as particular groups of people take part in the survey.

It is also necessary to add that the number of participants is limited. Hence, it is important to combine different approaches and methods to obtain sufficient data. It is also noteworthy that researchers tend to focus on different aspects of the issue. Nevertheless, topics chosen are often in line with trends existing in the society. Sometimes these trends make the research quite one-sided. For instance, excessive interest to feminist approach often leads to surveys based on this method while other approaches are abandoned.

Relevance to Management

It is necessary to state that the correlation between gender and leadership has a great impact on management as researchers focus on business, public sphere and education, i.e. contexts which are relevant to management. Researchers stress that diversity is the key to successful development of any organisation.

Though, it is necessary to add that some researchers believe female leaders are more effective (Anderson et al. 2006). Extensive research shows that female and male leaders can achieve high results when they cooperate with each other and try to work on projects together. Nevertheless, the research also reveals numerous stereotypes which jeopardise effective participation of female leaders in development of organisations.

These stereotypes are yet to be removed to help businesses to develop. Finally, research covers issues associated with education. Thus, it has been acknowledged that it is crucial to remove stereotypes and make females more active. The sphere of management will benefit from the development of educational strategies aimed at encouraging females to strive for leadership.

Lecturer’s Work

It is necessary to note that Carole Elliott has contributed greatly to development of the research as she focuses on a very important aspect of the issue. The researcher concentrates on the role of education in development of female leadership. Elliott notes that education can diminish negative role of stereotypes in the societal culture.

The researcher stresses that females can become active if their educators show them the best way to do it. Elliott claims that females (in the majority of cases) believe in the stereotypes created and do not rely on their skills, experience and knowledge, but let males be in charge. Education can affect development of female leadership as women will be encouraged to strive for leading positions.

The researcher also considers specific strategies and approaches to enable educators to affect young people’s mind-sets (Elliott & Stead 2008). This research can be regarded as an attempt to encourage females to occupy leading positions. The tools revealed in Elliott’s work can be employed by educators in numerous fields. Thus, female leaders can succeed in a variety of spheres such as business, industries, public sector, governmental organisations, healthcare and educational institutions.


On balance, it is possible to note that the correlation between gender and leadership has acquired significant attention. It has been acknowledged that societal culture plays a significant role in development of female leadership.

Nevertheless, the research still has certain gaps and it is necessary to pay more attention to regional peculiarities and development of female leadership in different regions and different spheres. At present, people have understood that female leaders are equal to male leaders. Though, the society (and even women) is not ready to forget about stereotypes and change trends in leadership. Nonetheless, researchers note that the change has started and on-going research will positively affect development of female leadership.

Reference List

Anderson, N, van Dam, K, Lievens, F & Born, M 2006, ‘A construct-driven investigation of gender differences in a leadership-role assessment center’, Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 91. no. 3, pp. 555-566.

Block, RA & Crawford, KC 2013, ‘Gender stereotyping of leadership behaviors: social metacognitive evidence’, Psychology and Social Behavior Research, vol. 1. no. 1, pp. 9-17.

Elliott, C & Stead, V 2008, ‘Learning from leading women’s experience: towards a sociological understanding’, Leadership, vol. 4. no. 2, pp. 159-180.

Kaminski, M & Yakura, EK 2008, ‘Women’s union leadership: closing the gender gap’, The Journal of Labour and Society, vol. 11. no. 1, pp. 459-475.

Kent, TW, Blair, CA & Rudd, HF 2010, ‘ Gender differences and transformational leadership behaviour: do both German men and women lead in the same way?’ International Journal of Leadership Studies, vol. 6. no. 1, pp. 52-66.

Lantz, PM 2008, ‘Gender and leadership in healthcare administration: 21st century progress and challenges’, Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 53. no. 5, pp. 291-303.

Page, ML 2011, ‘Gender mainstreaming – hidden leadership?’ Gender, work and organization, vol. 18. no. 3, pp. 318-336.

Reynolds, K 2011, ‘ Servant-leadership as gender-integrative leadership: paving a path for more gender-integrative organizations through leadership education’, Journal of Leadership Education, vol. 10. no. 2, pp. 155-171.

Snaebjornsson, IM & Edvardsson, IR 2013, ‘Gender, nationality and leadership style: a literature review’, International Journal of Business and Management, vol. 8. no. 1, pp. 89-103.

Swan, E, Stead, V & Elliott, C 2009, ‘Feminist challenges and futures: women, diversity and management learning’, Management Learning, vol. 40. no. 4, pp. 431-437.

Timberlake, S 2005, ‘Social capital and gender in the workplace’, Journal of Management Development, vol. 24. no. 1, pp. 34-44.

Van Emmerik, H, Wendt, H & Euwema, MC 2009, ‘Gender ratio, societal culture, and male and female leadership’, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, vol. 1. no. 1, pp. 1-21.

Virick, M & Greer, CR 2012, ‘Gender diversity in leadership succession: preparing for the future’, Human Resource Management, vol. 51. no. 4, pp. 575-600.

Wang, M & Kelan, E 2013, ‘The gender quota and female leadership: effects of the Norwegian gender quota on board chairs and CEOs’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 117. no. 1, pp. 449-466.

Wayne, NL, Vermillion & Uijtdehaage 2010, ‘Gender differences in leadership amongst first-year medical students in the small-group settings’, Academic Medicine, vol. 85. no. 8, pp. 1-6.

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