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Women’s Features in Administrative Leadership Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 14th, 2020


In a utopian world, administration and administrative leadership would be relying on the principles of integrity, verity, and fair-mindedness, facilitating the involvement of all genders equally. On the global scale, equality does not seem to be the case, as of yet. Women do take part in administrative leadership in percentages close to, equal to, and even surpassing the goal of 30% set by ECOSOC in the 90s (United Nations Development Programme, 2014).

Also, it is stated that the 1995 Conference on Women in Beijing indicated a significant shift from masculine predominance to something entirely new (D’Agostino & Levine, 2011). On the other hand, the discrepancy between genders participating in administrative decision-making persists. Women’s non-advancement in the field appears to be set on default, making the glass ceiling quite hard to dissolve (Caceres-Rodriguez, 2013).

The gender gap in the administration would suffice in accounting for all genders’ interests and facilitating democratic governing practices – and yet, the power is still not as balanced as it could have been. In public, as well as scholarly writing, much has been said about leadership. In the volatility of the contemporary world, remarkable leaders are a living epitome of success. The style of leadership is indeed unique for every individual – but it should not depend on their personality or gender, for that matter.

Style is the strategy a leader chooses to adjust the organizational climate and handle failures just as well as success. It is generally thought that leadership styles differ for men and women and both can be a valuable asset in administrative leadership and succession planning. The following paper focuses on the so-called women’s leadership and is aimed at estimating whether there are leadership features that can be attributed to women exclusively.

Public perception of women as leaders

As far back as the 90s, 70% of female managers in the corporate US felt the male-dominated culture considerably stagnated their development (Skinner, 2006). Although more than two decades have passed since then, there is still a significant controversy as to women’s issues in administrative leadership – or any leadership, for that matter. Although women’s leadership is being expansively mainstreamed both in business and administration, some analyses show that the positioning of both sexes in leadership does not speak entirely in favor of women. Incorporate the world, for instance, women are believed to be excellent at managing but performing poorly when it concerns business communication. On the other hand, men are regarded as natural leaders par excellence (Katila & Eriksson, 2011).

The idea of the “glass ceiling” was put forward in the 1970s and tried to explain the reasons it is quite so complicated for women to be promoted as leaders. Although the struggle for female rights resulted in growing education rates and considerable working experience since then, it is commonly thought that women are not in congruence with the roles and duties they would have to perform if promoted. This idea also presupposed unfavorable attitudes from colleagues and subordinates as a critical factor influencing the self-esteem and leadership style of female leaders (Caceres-Rodriguez, 2013).

Indeed, gender-based assumptions and bias are perfectly capable of creating a workplace atmosphere that complexifies development. Bias regards females as subject to domination; it is assumed that women are by nature complacent when being controlled. Also, gender roles have a significant part in the perception of women entering leadership positions. The image of womanhood is consistent with images of mothering that do not quite conform to the image of career-making as viewed by the public, as well as administrative analysts and decision-makers. As a result of these judgmental attitudes, global rates of women’s involvement in administration leadership ranges from up to 75% to less than 15% (United Nations Development Programme, 2014). Gender-based segregative practices are not limited solely to public administration but extend to the entire occupational paradigm and job facilities.

That such misjudgments should exist to date appears rather bizarre. Indeed, the estimation that the female leadership style is less efficient than that of the opposite sex is based largely on public perception than on facts (Appelbaum, Audet, & Miller, 2003). At any rate, these perceptions, albeit being empirical by nature, result in profound challenges for women entering administrative leadership at the present day. To disprove these perceptions, it is worth understanding how a good administrative leader is depicted generally and how the necessary skills of a general, genderless leader correspond with the way women lead.

Administrative leadership that achieves results

Training and educating a leader, regardless of their gender, is widely considered a must, although there are deviations as to precisely what style of leadership makes the most difference and achieves the highest levels of performance. Whether an ideal leadership style exists at all is rather questionable. Stories of leadership success vary in detail, but generally convince that to be a leader, a person should be born one, which seems to only strengthen the belief that males are natural leaders. Such belief is also nurtured by the variability of the leaders’ personalities and behaviors that suit different occasions where a powerful hand is needed. Style is the strategy a leader chooses to adjust the organizational climate and handle failures just as well as success.

One of the approaches is that a successful leader should be able to use as many styles as possible. Goleman (2000) singles out six of them, which are coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and coaching styles. The author asserts that a leader should use at least four of them and be comfortable with switching from one to another. Emotional intelligence in leaders makes them sensitive to the slightest changes in the environment due to this or that style and enables them to act accordingly. In short, according to this approach, an effective leader should be fluid and capable of adopting styles under different conditions. For that sake, the leaders are to learn which style requires which emotional capabilities and what is the connection between the style and performance. The results would be the best indicator of whether a leader is successful at that or not (Goleman, 2000).

Another approach consists in defining who an effective administrator is and what skills they should have. Is it assumed that a leader has to have some activities done by guiding their subordinates’ activities (Orazi, 2013)? Such a leader should have skills to understand the specificity of the activities their subordinates are involved in. Another skill necessary for a leader is social skill taking its roots from self-assessment. Finally, the skill that completes a set of successful leader’s features is the ability to conceptualize the integral structure of the establishment and envisage the impact of this or that particular action on the outcome. Leaders should always be ready to transform and at the same time maintain the integrity of their establishment (Orazi, 2013).

Female leadership that achieves results

Barsh and Cranston (2009) asserted that female leaders are more likely to develop personal capabilities that help them center their leading effort firstly on themselves, and later – on their business. These capabilities form the centered leadership model that is quite likely to result in the leader’s enhanced adaptive capabilities and present the feeling of belonging while lowering the unhealthy impact of stress. Initially, the authors state, the model was developed concerning female leaders. Women, the state, are better at utilizing their inner power to attribute meaning to what they do. Moreover, women possess a higher level of emotional intelligence that enables them to be self-aware. Also, women are commonly regarded as better conversationalists due to their social skills, which is why female leaders gain trust easier than their male counterparts (Barsh & Cranston, 2009).

Nevertheless, all the components of the McKinsey leadership model apply to both male and female leaders. This model subsumes the leader’s ability to firstly sort themselves out, weigh their strengths and weaknesses, and use the results of the analysis in action. Either through coaching or the power of persuasion, the leader acts mindfully in the toughest of situations, thus gaining the respect and trust of their team, which increases the leaders’ self-awareness and control. Also, it helps deploy a personalized view of the issues and overcome the anxiety of facing them.

Another approach to female leadership also relies on gendered characteristics of women to explain why women achieve extraordinary results when put into leading positions. Décosterd (2013) argues that women can benefit from using their natural qualities. Intuitive orientation facilitates taking feasible opportunities and better decision-making. Directive force in women makes for a firm leader that allocates the goal their workers have to achieve and uses empathy to encourage them to make decisions on their own, using empowering intent which is another component of Décosterd’s model.

Finally, assimilative nature capacitates for women’s ability to restore energy and assess the impact of their feelings on themselves, the others, and the administrative process (Décosterd, 2013). Leaders in control of themselves can hear the voice of reason in the harshest of situations. The latter is specifically important for leadership since a leader that thinks and reacts reasonably inspires their subordinates to think and act the same. It is also useful when building an atmosphere of reciprocal trust within the organization. Deploying a holistic approach towards all techniques and leadership styles, it is possible to assume that different female leaders use different styles or a fusion of them, which makes it possible to estimate the value of female leaders in successful administrative leadership and planning.

These approaches are valuable since they demonstrate how one becomes a leader and what qualities should one develop to succeed at that. However, upon some analytical thinking, it can be estimated that these seemingly non-sexist leadership models might be biased. Having been developed by women and for women, these models matter-of-factly deepen the stereotypes that some traits can be attributed to women only. As a motivation for women not to be afraid of the congruence-related negative attitudes that they are likely to meet when promoting leadership, these models are sufficient. As to the seemingly unique features that women possess, it is worth comparing the generic leadership model and the female-oriented one.

Female leadership and administrative leadership

It is known that the company’s integrity and directions are hinged by the leader’s capabilities. In short, an effective – genderless – leader is perceived to be fluid and flexible, with an ability to switch between leadership styles depending on the situation. Such a leader also has to be in position and capable of using a variety of skills, such as technical knowledge, sociability, and conceptual understanding of an establishment as an integral structure. It can be conceded that such skills require the ability to assess oneself with one’s strengths and weaknesses and use internal capabilities externally, concerning the team and colleagues.

The so-called human skill is of doubtless importance here since the leader’s task is to facilitate a change of attitude in a poorly performing team an encourage an efficient one to keep it up. A leader should find the meaning of personal importance and regard every goal as their one. In doing so, the leader can communicate the importance of the goal achieved to their team and be more involved in the estimation of risks. At the same time, not being afraid to take risks, acting consistently, and making decisions through discussion will result in better opportunities and eventually lead to success. These are the criteria that a successful leader ha to meet; importantly, each criterion can be attributed to the general set of notions referring to successful leadership regardless of their gender and to the set of notions commonly used to describe the female leadership style.

Indeed, both paradigms set emotional intelligence as a paramount value. Emotional intelligence is attributed to a successful leader – regardless of gender – since it includes a range of valuable skills essential to leadership. This trait determines whether leaders are aware and in full control of themselves, whether they are motivated, able to empathize and generally get on with people. Generically considering men as successful leaders, this paradigm appears to be male-oriented. However, the studies show that women demonstrate the same qualities: they look for meaning in what they do, use their emotions to the benefit, and can socialize with regard to making valuable connections that will prove advantageous in the future.


Basing our assumptions on how female leaders are generally regarded, it is possible to say that women undoubtedly make successful administrative leaders and planners. More importantly, it can be concluded that the efficiency and quality of administrative leadership are not determined by the leader’s gender. The “genderless” leaders’ qualities and female leaders’ ones are based on approximately the same approaches. The criteria of efficiency, as opposed to inefficient leadership, are the same, consisting largely of the ability to switch between leadership styles and assessing internal qualities to use them externally. Thus, regardless of the gender roles that are imposed on them by society, women make perfect genderless administrative leaders. The value that women introduce to administrative leadership is that they are capable of meeting the interests of their sex through their policies, further promote gender equality, and possibly deconstruct the glass ceiling in public administration and elsewhere.


Appelbaum, S. H., Audet, L., & Miller, J. C. (2003). Gender and leadership? Leadership and gender? A journey through the landscape of theories. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 24(1), 43-51.

This article is aimed at the examination of differences between men’s and women’s leadership styles. The authors conclude that the differences are insignificant and that the opposite opinion might be regarded as prejudicial. The article has significant value since it provides an in-depth analysis of female and male assigned leadership styles in retrospect.

Barsh, J., & Cranston, S. (2009). How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life. Old Saybrook, CT: Tantor Media.

This book explores the “feminine” leadership model and argues that this mode is better suited for leadership in general. It provides a paradigm of leadership that leaders of both sexes can consider. The book is useful since it helps understand exactly what style of leadership can be regarded as feminine as opposed to masculine style.

Caceres-Rodriguez, R. (2013). The Glass Ceiling Revisited: Moving Beyond Discrimination in The Study of Gender in Public Organizations. Administration & Society, 45(6), 674-709.

This article provides a theoretical background for the issue of gender in administrative leadership. It explores the notion of the glass ceiling and the position of women within the framework of administrative leadership. The article is valuable to our study because it revives the issue of gender and representation of females as a minority group in leadership.

D’Agostino, M. J., & Levine, H. (2011). Women in Public Administration: Theory and Practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

This book explores the empirical and theoretical framework of women’s issues in administrative leadership. The authors also overview the notion of the gender gap and provide insight from the position of the female enterprise to enter administrative leadership positions. The book is significant because it overviews the issue of male predomination in a variety of fields.

Décosterd, M. L. (2013). How Women Are Transforming Leadership: Four Key Traits Powering Success. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

This book provides a model of leadership based on “innate” qualities that can be attributed to women. The author bases her assumptions on life examples and gives a conceptual framework for feminine leadership. The book is valuable because it gives another perspective on the notion of the female leadership style and the skills necessary to succeed.

Goleman, D. (2000). . Web.

This article formulates a leadership paradigm that is universal for all genders and stresses the importance of being able to switch leadership styles as needed. The article is valuable since the author does not base his assumptions on gender characteristics, instead of relying on such qualities as talent and common sense that talented leaders probably share.

Katila, S., & Eriksson, P. (2013). He is a Firm, Strong-Minded and Empowering Leader, but is She? Gendered Positioning of Female and Male CEOs. Gender, Work & Organization, 20(1), 71-84.

This study focuses on the images of female and male leaders as represented in the collective subconscious. It discovers a significant discrepancy in how the public regards female and male leaders as to their gender identity rather than professional qualities. This study is important because it reveals the possible reasons for the glass ceiling from a social perspective.

Orazi, D. C. (2013). Public sector leadership: New perspectives for research and practice. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 79(3), 486-504.

In this study, the author explores the genderless leadership style and reveals what a successful leader should focus upon to achieve their goal. He concludes that the maintenance of integrity is the most effective administrative leadership policy. The study is relevant because it provides a non-gendered perspective on leadership and the most effective ways of it.

Skinner, J. L. (2006). Women’s Pursuit of Advancement Opportunities: The Impact of Gendered Climates on Women’s Perceptions of Fit with Leadership. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University.

This study focuses on a gendered workplace atmosphere and its impact on women’s self-perception as fit or not fit for leadership. It was stated that a friendly atmosphere improved the leaders’ performance while negative attitudes raised the question of role congruence in them. The study is important because it gives another public perspective on the issue.

United Nations Development Programme. (2014). Gender Equality in Public Administration. Web.

This program provides a detailed view of the under-representation of women in administrative leadership positions. It gives some relevant statistics which is valuable for our study and provides possible reasons and solution to the problem of unequal representation, at the same time advocating for equality and holism in various areas of life including public administration.

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