In this article, Meiya G. Nthoesane and Vatiswa Nthoesane present a conceptual framework for developing woman leaders. The research about women proving their worth as leaders need not continue. Instead, tthe new wave of research should focus on constructing women as leaders, say the authors.
by Meiya G. Nthoesane and Vatiswa Nthoesane
Meiya G. Nthoesane is the Director at MBS Leadership and Coaching Institute and Vatiswa Nthoesane is the Manager Human Capital Shared Services, Auditor General South Africa. For further information please contact Meiya G. Nthoesane at email@example.com
In recent years women have made strides in securing their place in executive boards and ranks. However, worldwide, men continue to dominate executive and senior management echelons. Booysen and Nkomo (2010:293) reported in a South African study that men, both black and white, still perceive “men as more likely to possess the characteristics necessary for a successful manager compared to women”, in essence perpetuating the notion of “think manager–think male”. Moving on from this premise, it is probable that men in leadership positions are more likely to keep the workplace leadership masculine and neglect the empowerment of women into leadership positions.
Research has identified some of the practices that affect women negatively in assuming leadership positions in organisations. These include:
Queen Bee Syndrome, identified by Staines, Tavris and Hayagrante (1973, cited in April et al 2007) as the attitude of reluctance from women in senior management and executive positions to risk their own careers by promoting other promising women, partly because of their desire to remain unique in organisations. The closely-related phenomenon is the feeling of insecurity in some women who, when they have succeeded in getting to the top, do not want others “near” them, so they push other women down. This is what Ngambi (2011) refers to as the PhD syndrome that disrupts initiatives aimed at supporting gender equality in organisations.
The Glass Ceiling Effect, described by Eagly and Carly (2007) as the condition of women who are progressing upwards in their professional careers but who cannot get to the top because of invisible blockades. The glass ceiling inhibits the promotion and progression mainly of women managers, and the “explanations” or justifications include among others women’s lack of necessary education and workplace experience (Weyer, 2007). Needless to mention, in many instances the environment for acquiring experience in the workplace is non-existent.
Stereotyping, for example, research done by Brady, Isaacs, Reeves, Burroway and Reynolds (2011) found that organisations that have experienced corporate scandals in recent years are likely to have female executives; resulting in women’s presumed incompetence and inferiority. In support of this observation, Lee (2011) in a South African study noted that women largely feel that they always have to prove their competence in the workplace as a result of gender bias.
Recruitment Practices, where research finds that women are usually placed in “soft” positions such as corporate affairs, public relations, human resources, and marketing, or if they are in strategic departments such as risk management and finance (Brady et al, 2011), then they are “acting” or are in secondment positions.
Pull and Push Factors, such as work-family demands, lack of advancement opportunities, and unfavourable conditions (stress, unsupportive colleagues and boss) are listed as some of the practices that undermine the ability of women to lead (Volpe and Murphy, 2011). »