The number of women on the global labor market is growing. Women from diverse ethnic and national origin are entering the workforce. The access to education and the gained experience at work result in the increase in the number of women in leading and management positions. This creates the need for redefining effective leaderships in terms of gender, stereotyping and role expectations.
Some estimates suggest that by 2030 there will be more women in management positions than men in view of the big number of women getting Bachelor degrees. Organizations are facing the need for accepting diverse leadership styles and reconsider gender expectations.
The share of women in managerial positions differs from country to country, 25 percent in Germany and 43 percent in Australia. However, the percentage of women in top management positions is 0.3 percent in Japan, 5 percent in Germany and 10 percent in the United States.
One theory, known as the "glass ceiling", argues that the reason for the small number of women in leadership positions is the impeding effect of social expectations on women's efforts to gain management positions.Leadership is usually based on concepts of authoritarian behavior typical for males. This may lead to a "glass ceiling", which does not allow feminine leadership behavior oriented on relationships.
Prejudice and discrimination have also contributed to the scarcity of women in leadership positions. Social patterns that constitute what is good leadership behavior favor men as leaders. Corporate recruitment and promotion policies are also a factor for the low count of women leaders. Many surveys from the 1970s have come to the conclusion that male managers pointed masculine behavior as a prerequisite for manager's success.
Even women who have the necessary skills and abilities to be leaders may face difficulties to get a top position. Under the pressure of social stereotypes women leaders are inclined to downplay their feminine character and act more like men in order to get promotion. Women also choose a more masculine behavior in order to be successful leaders.
Women also face more work stress and pressure from gender discrimination, especially in sectors where males are dominant.
According to Maria Gardiner and Marika Tiggemann, there are different types of leadership depending on the focus of leaders. They argue that women are focused on relationships and people, while men are focused on achieving goals. Women value relationships with employees and interaction with people. Thus, women are preferred leaders in organizations where relationships are of big importance.
Some researchers estimate that the type of leadership oriented on employees is playing an increasingly important role, replacing leadership focused on tasks.
A. H. Eagly and B.T. Johnson made a meta-analysis based on a big number of assessment and laboratory studies. They proved that there are gender differences in leadership, although small. Along with the women's inclination to relationship-oriented leadership, the study found that women leaders are more likely to have a democratic style than men. Eagly and Johnson also found that women in male-dominated environments had to adopt styles more typical for men in order to maintain their authority and position. They also postulated that men tend to have a negative view of women in management positions which often makes women adopt a more musciline style of leadership.
Gardiner and Tiggemann discovered that women leaders were disappointed and suffered negative evaluations when their behaviors failed to match the stereotypes or the evaluator's expectations.
In a self-report evaluation study, conducted by A. E. Lewis and E.A. Fagenson-Eland, men evaluated themselves superior in task-oriented behavior, while women pointed relationship-oriented behaviors as their strength. Furthermore, women tend to exhibit participative decision making, charisma, praising and nurturing behaviors. On the other hand, men are more directive, controlling and task-oriented. Men and women leaders usually do not show gender differences in terms of innovation, problem-solving, inspiring respect and trust.
R. Rosenthal suggests that women and men leaders solve conflicts in different ways. Socialization and traditional social perseptions have made women more inclined to learn and practice skills related to accommodation and cooperation. Unlike women, men are likely to use competition and personal assertiveness as a means of solving conflicts.
The field of politics has also seen a change in gender roles, as more women are running for political offices. Surveys from the 1980s show that women candidates were facing disadvantages in elections as compared with men candidates. However, surveys from the 1990s show a change as disadvatages women were struggling with were diminishing. The gender of a candidate had effect on elections al a local level rather than at a national level.