This article researches female leadership to show that women have some advantages in typical leadership style but are disadvantaged by evaluating their competence as leaders, which is largely prejudicial, especially in male-dominated organisations. Its also elucidates that there is a rise in female leadership and attributes that rise to qualities that women exhibit in leadership that are befitting to contemporary organisations (Jogulu & Wood 2006). The article examines the following hypotheses based on empirical research:
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- Women and men differ in leadership style.
- Female leaders face prejudice and discrimination.
- There is a significant shift in leadership requirements to suit Contemporary organisational needs.
- Female leadership might be better or additionally effective in meeting organisational needs than male leadership.
All hypotheses were supported, and hence they point out that women have both advantages and disadvantages as far leadership is concerned. However, their disadvantages arise mainly in roles. Women have also changed significantly increasing their investment in human capital, changing their behaviours to include masculine attributes hence gained entry into male-dominated fields. There is also organisational change due to civil rights legislation and also re-definition of leadership roles which were previously defined as effective leadership based on stereotyped evaluations that associated some roles specifically to men.
The research question was – do women have some advantages in a typical leadership style? The question is then broken further into three hypotheses to tackle the topic in detail. The research question and the hypotheses have served well their purpose by first bringing into view traditional theories on leadership, then demystifying the stereotypes against women on leadership and lastly bringing out ignored female strengths.
The researcher contrasted his views with those of other research reviews by addressing questions as put out in the hypotheses. His was done through meta-analysis, a statistical method that joins together summarises, and evaluates previous quantitative research. The technique combines study findings to give measures of an average degree of an effect and test through statistics whether the differences in these results can be explained by the characteristics of the studies reviewed. One of the requirements of meta-analysis is that the studies under review should address the same hypothesis question, and this was true in the article. One advantage of using the methodology is that it combines many studies that otherwise would have overwhelmed as he tries to get accurate generalisations and summaries.
Participants were obtained from both organisational sites, and non-laboratory settings and they were either managers, students or other non-student groups. The researcher also depended on both published and unpublished data. Sample of data on different sexes and leadership styles from different researchers that were compared were as follows:
- Dobin and Platz (1986)- found 17 studies which gave 8 studies.
- Eagly and Johnson (1990)- found 161 documents which gave 162 studies.
- Eagly, Karau and Makhinjani (1995)- found 87 documents which gave 96 studies.
From the discrepancies between the documents and studies obtained from each research, it is evident that the more the documents researched, the more accurate the findings are as demonstrated in the second sample. Therefore, though the method could be right, some samples with no extensive searches could alter the otherwise true state of the expected findings (Eagly & Carli, 2003).
The other disadvantage of the sample is that using participants outside organisation setups might be a disadvantage because they might be aware of the organisation’s true state of affairs. Their observations will mostly be based on hearsay. This negatively affects the findings because there was no distinction between them and those in organisational setups (Eagly & Carli, 2003).
Data used in this research was obtained from secondary sources which were meta-analysis of researches carried out by different individuals. To meet the research’s objective, all data collected must have focused on answering the hypotheses questions. There was a four-step criterion to determine whether any meta-analysis work had the quality required to make it as a valid sample:
- To check whether the search conducted by the meta-analyst was extensive enough to cover relevant topics
- Whether at least two judges of interjudge status coded the findings
- Determine whether analysis of the databases of studies was done thoroughly.
- Establish whether the discussion of the side effects, weakness and strings of studies was appropriately done.
These criteria ensured that the quality of the meta-analysis samples that were used were of the required standard hence ensuring that the quality of the findings was also credible. Secondary data is easier to obtain and is also cost-effective. However, due to the lack of collection of their primary data one cannot establish the objectivity of the person who collected the primary data.
Evaluation of contribution to leadership theory or leadership practice
This study provides that women have some leadership qualities that are essential in meeting organisational needs, and it contributes particularly to the development of female leadership. The article points out to organisation management boards’ to change their criteria of hiring leaders where whereby leadership roles are defined in masculine terms. Also, it provides a wider pool of leaders to choose from when hiring and hence ensures selection on performance rather than stereotypes. It also acts as an impetus to women who seek leadership positions to position them strategically, even in male-dominated roles. They can do this by exhibiting agentic qualities while combining them with their supportive leadership qualities (Eagly & Carli, 2003).
The research also comes as a wake-up call to men in leadership and those aspiring that shortly management of organisations will no-longer require masculine characteristics of power accumulation; rather, it embraces transformational leadership of support to subordinates. This research also provides a window for the government to see the hurdles women face to reach top leadership positions. Hence, it will be able to develop policies that promote female leadership. As a result, the untapped women potential will be used to promote the development of that country.
This research also provides an avenue of cooperation between males and females. Because of the effectiveness of different sexes in different roles, they can supplement their strengths and weaknesses. This will ensure increased production instead of one viewing the other as inferior or competitor. The research also brings out the neutral view of leadership roles which defines leadership in terms of competence instead of traditional ideologies (Leavitt, 1989). This ensures that those selected for given positions are qualified, and hence the tasks assigned will be effectively accomplished. Lastly, this research provides information to organisations on how they can bring out overshadowed leadership qualities. This is achievable by changing the organisation’s practices, cultures and roles that demean women.
Eagly, A, H and Carli, L, L (2003). The female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. The Leadership quarterly 14 pp: 807–834.
Heather Höpf and Sumohon Matilal, 2007. “The lady vanishes”: some thoughts on women and leadership. Journal of Organizational Change Management. 20 (2). pp. 198-208.
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Jogulu, U, D and Wood, J, G (2006). The role of leadership theory in raising the profile of women in management. Equal Opportunities International 25 (4). pp: 236-250.
Leavitt, H, J (1989). Readings in managerial psychology Chicago: University of Chicago Press.