A Cultural Feminist Perspective on Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations: A Case of Women Leaders in India

By Vasavada, Triparna | Public Administration Quarterly, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

A Cultural Feminist Perspective on Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations: A Case of Women Leaders in India


Vasavada, Triparna, Public Administration Quarterly


In the United States, women play an important role in the nonprofit sector and have a distinct influence in terms of philanthropic giving, volunteering, and nonprofit-sector employment (see, for example, McCarthy, 2001; Ostrander, 2004; Petrzelka & Mannon, 2006). The situation is similar in other parts of the world. In India, women lead various types of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) including advocacy and consciousness-raising groups; grassroots organizations such as tribal organizations, trade unions, and democratic rights groups; professional women's organizations such as those for doctors and lawyers; women's wings of political parties; and groups that research and document women's issues. These NPOs play an increasingly important role in various issues of governance (Desai and Patel, 1985). Because the Indian nonprofit sector employs 2.7 million paid employees and 3.4 million full-time volunteers (Srinivastava & Tandon, 2005), women's leadership in the nonprofit sector has a far-reaching impact. In comparison, the central government in India employs approximately 3.3 million individuals (Srinivastava & Tandon, 2005).

Even though no statistical data exists on the gender of nonprofit leaders, evidence from various literatures suggests that there is large number of nonprofit organizations lead by women in India (Desai & Patel, 1985). In the absence of data on the nonprofit sector, the gender landscape of the overall workforce provides useful information. Currently, women make up 36% of the Indian labor force, with 22.6% of women employed by organizations, 6% percent in senior management and 4.9% on boards of directors (Catalyst, 2010). Despite the far-reaching implications of women's participation, little research exists on the subject of women in NPOs (Themudo, 2009). In their book on grassroots nonprofit organizations, Handy, Kassam, Feeney, and Ranade (2006) noted that "non-profit entrepreneurship studies in academic journals are limited. In particular, there is little material on female non-profit entrepreneurs or entrepreneurship in non-Western cultures" (p. 30). Using interview data from 32 women NPO leaders, I study women's leadership in Indian NPOs through a cultural feminist perspective.

Notably, although this paper is a case study of one developing country, the framework provided here has implications for NPOs across the world. Globally, NPOs are engaged in several activities that focus on socio-cultural, psychological, and economic factors. Therefore, leaders have an opportunity to address these issues by utilizing the suggested framework at multiple levels. Further, the scope of NPOs is expanding. In the United States, for example, the number of NPOs in suburban areas has grown (Salamon & Sokolowski, 2005). This growth indicates the possibility of changing the perceptions of leadership across society in rural, urban, and suburban areas. Mastracci and Herring (2010) indicated that the proportions of women in full-time and mission-critical positions are higher in nonprofits than in for-profit organizations. In addition, Johnson (2009) predicted that because of the increase in college education among women and the retirement of the baby boomer generation, the nonprofit sector will employ a higher number of women as leaders in the United States. However, the sector has yet to recognize women's contribution as leaders (Themudo, 2009). Women face a glass ceiling in the nonprofit sector (Moore & Whitt, 2000), are under-represented in upper management positions, and earn lower wages than men for the same work (Guidestar, 2007). Using the framework I propose, nonprofits can begin to reduce barriers for women leaders by appreciating differences between feminine and masculine values. The glass ceiling could be shattered if organizations and society shifted from the traditionally masculine concept of leadership to a more gender-inclusive understanding. To benefit from the full potential of women as leaders and employees, nonprofits must recognize the importance of feminine values.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Cultural Feminist Perspective on Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations: A Case of Women Leaders in India
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.