Women Make Better Leaders – Yes or No?
If you were looking for a highly popular, highly controversial debate, you found it. Which gender makes for better leaders?
In fact, all you need to do is Google something along the lines of “who are better leaders – women or men” and you’ll find plenty of studies and articles that try to answer the million-dollar question.
A study conducted in 2015, named A Study in Leadership: Women Do It Better Than Men, for instance, analyzed a sample of over 7,000 leaders, 64% of which were men and 36% women, on their leadership skills. In the end, they reached the conclusion that women excelled in twelve of the sixteen competencies needed to be a good leader, including technical or professional expertise, collaboration and teamwork, and high integrity and honesty.
Another study executed in 2018, which looked at 59 years of research and included more than 19,000 participants, found out that men are more likely to be perceived leaders, showing that many people believe that the male gender has what it takes to successfully take on a position of authority.
A third one, from 2019, put things in a different perspective and concluded that men and women simply manage in different ways: the first group applies management of the law, while the second one goes for de facto management.
But… are these comparisons beneficial?
As you read before, there are no conclusive results to this mystery of which gender makes for better leaders. But that’s not what we want to focus on today.
Our question is: does this constant comparing between genders and their leadership skills do anybody any good? Is it fair to put everyone in the same category based on their chromosomes and nothing more?
As much as a certain gender might have a higher propensity to showcase certain characteristics, which might or might not be ideal for authority positions, it doesn’t seem reasonable to generalize these traits in such a big scale.
Just think about this: are all the women (or all the men) you’ve ever met in your life the exact same type of person? And have you never met a woman who reminded you of a certain man (or vice-versa)?
We can see how the statement “Women make better leaders than men” might come from a good place. Someone who’s aware of the injustice in terms of opportunities that women have faced (and still do) might end up benefiting the female gender with good intentions. And it’s fair enough to adopt this position: women are indeed seen as inferior in many professional circumstances:
- In America, for each $1 a man earns, a woman gets 49 cents. (Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2018)
- Only 5.4% of women were a part of the group of CEOs at S&P 500 companies in 2017. (Catalyst, 2019)
- 29% of women believe their gender will prevent them from getting a raise or a promotion, even if they deserve it. (Women in the Workplace 2018, 2018)
- Having a kid can signify a drop in the women’s earnings of 31% in English-speaking countries, 21% in Scandinavian countries and 51% in German-speaking countries. (Child Penalties Across Countries: Evidence and Explanations, 2019).
Being aware of these inequalities (and of the fact that more women have bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees than men), people might end up defending an opinion that, although well-meaning, isn’t realistic.
So how can you be reasonable, while also conveying your true belief, that women make great leaders too?
Inclusion is the Key
The secret to reaching equality lies in giving everyone the same opportunities, instead of considering an entire demographic more competent than another based on aspects that don’t actually influence how much they deserve said opportunities.
All the statistics we mentioned before are very much real and they’re certainly not changing at a fast enough pace.
You can do your part by spreading the message of equality. If you’re in a position of authority, you can do even more and make sure that gender doesn’t influence any decision you make about promotions, raises and prizes.
Each one of us is an individual who has way more to show than just our gender. Throughout our life, we’re built relationships, we’ve been through experiences and we’ve learned many lessons. All of that has helped us shape our personality and define our values and beliefs.
Treat each and every one of your team members as equal, appreciate the individual skills, qualities and know-how that each person adds to the team and make decisions based on those factors. This way, you’ll see that everyone will always bring their best game to the office and strive to become better every day.