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Women in Top Leadership Positions Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2022

Women in the twenty-first century have made significant progress in climbing up the leadership ladder as compared to the previous periods. However, women still have comparatively very few representations in top leadership positions. For instance, research on executive officers who are in Fortune 500 companies found that women only held 13.5% of the positions and in top earner jobs only 6.3% were women. Companies that have at least three women as executive officers were less than one-fifth and a third of the Fortune 500 companies had no female executive officer (Soares, Carter, & Combopiano, para. 2). As result, there have been a lot of theories that try to explain why there is a big disparity, for instance, the glass ceiling and the labyrinth.

According to glass ceiling proponents, women have a limit in ascending to top leadership positions and they are set up to fail at a given point in time when those invisible barriers are reached. However, this theory does not hold water based on evidence of women who have exceptionally succeeded in securing top positions in various top companies. For example Carly Fiorina at Hewlett Packard, Kate Swan at W.H. Smith, and Patricia Russo at Alcatel-Lucent, who all assumed the top positions at a time of tumbling share prices. This clearly points out that women can ascend to those top positions and equally perform well or even better than men (Hewlet, para. 4). The Labyrinth describes successful routes through which women that have made it to the top pass through. These routes are characterized by numerous obstacles which previously seemed insurmountable and invisible (Eagly and Carli p. 1).

These barriers can be summarized into three points which include; resistance to women’s leadership whereby there is prejudicial evaluation of women as leaders based on stereotypical judgments. Particularly because certain attributes of successful women are viewed negatively while in men there will be no cause for alarm. For example, if a female leader expresses her anger she is viewed as difficult and abrasive however if a male demonstrates the same he is viewed as passionate and assertive. Secondly, we have differences in leadership styles whereby people prefer women to be compassionate to others as their quality however they also want leaders with qualities of assertiveness and control. These two are conflicting because they rarely go together. In addition, women lack role models because in most cases they find themselves to be the only female member of the team. Lastly, there are family demands whereby women are the ones who are primarily involved with taking care of their children. As a result, they are more likely than men to interrupt their career to look after their families or at times lack adequate time for professional social networking which is vital for career advancement (Eagly & Carli, p. 2-5).

In conclusion, women still have a long way to go however with light having been shed on the myths that were held against female leadership there is a bright future ahead. They need to complement their compassionate and supportive qualities with assertiveness and they will end up with a brand that even men will find it hard to beat. According to the current trends of business are seeking leaders who can promote teamwork and development of their subject’s talents, therefore, it’s only a matter of time before tables are turned on me.


Eagly, A H and Carli, L L. Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership. Web.

Hewlet, S A. 2008. Web.

Soares, R, Carter, N M, and Combopiano, J. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Women in Top Leadership Positions." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/women-in-top-leadership-positions/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Women in Top Leadership Positions." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/women-in-top-leadership-positions/.


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