The Women In Leadership Cultural Studies Essay

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Women realize that just being in the workplace does not fix an organization. Its the chance to be at the helm equipped with ideas, strategies and synergy. Women want a chance at the big decision making process. These theorists tell the story of women in leadership. They all say it in their own way. The problem of may not be eradicated, but at least women are at the table.

The author, Ann Kreamer says men on the job must feel besieged. Two seismic shifts are underway that is irrevocably changing the ways in which we have believed work works. On one hand, science says men and women are wired differently. Further, we find that, yes; men can be inclined to behave emotionally and irrationally in certain work situations according to John Coates (

Personal Reflection

Ann Kreamer in this Harvard Business Review was truthful in her analogies about men and women and the workplace. The statistics proved her points. She gave figures that were startling. 62% of graduate students are women. Whew! I think there is much to be learned about 21st century cognitive awareness on women and leadership. What are the nuts and bolts of this dilemma? She says deep inside we are all super-old-school, I know I am. In reality men and women must work together regardless to who is in the next cubicle. Women must consider how to get the job done when the babysitter calls. This article helps you on your way to understanding that process and working through it. After 40 years of feminist-era-dues paying, women's moment has come. Hear us roar."

Archambeau, K. (2006) Climbing the corporate ladder in high heels, Franklin Lakes, NJ

Career Press.

"Regardless of what kinds of shoes we wear, Kathleen Archambeau's book is an essential tool for American women who want to succeed in business without giving up who they are as women. This book re-defines success with an emphasis on women's values, the very values essential to bettering our world." There are 63 million working women in America, but only nine are top company CEOs. While women make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce, working women perform 90 percent of household and childcare duties. Women are left wondering, "Do I have to make a choice between my career or my life.

Personal Reflection

Nothing supports this point of view more than reading it from others. It's quite helpful when you read others account of climbing the corporate ladder and succeeding, but not without hurdles. I have been on my job for thirty one years; can I make it to the top? The hurdle seems impossible. It's nice to hear practical advice on how to make it after being told you can't. It was also pleasant to hear stories from studies conducted right here at home such as part of the study was completed at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, namely, (James Mellon Walton, Professor Economics, Carnegie Mellon) dedicated it "To all the women who want a career and a life." The statistics state, out of 63 million working women in America, only 1.6% is at Fortune 500 companies. We have a long way to go. But that doesn't mean women are not leaders and in top leadership roles. I don't have to change my hair, lose weight, and wear stiletto's or business suits to reflect who I am as a leader.

Badaracco, Joseph L. Jr., We Don't Need another Hero (2009) Retrieved: http://.org/2001/09/we-dont-needanother-hero/ar/pr.

Women in leadership are under different standards locally and globally. This author talks about the gold standard of honorable leadership. He references Martin Luther King Jr., for example when talking about charismatic leadership and battling wrongdoing. It was noted that most firms and organizations did not practice this type of leadership. The literature gives four key rules in handling ethical challenges and decision making that is crucial to women in leadership positions and leadership in general. 1) pick you battles and calculate the risks;2) bend the rules which refers to maneuvering successfully; 3) find a compromise which talks about how to craft and frame responsibly, what is a workable compromise, and putting off things until tomorrow, which confronts ethical dilemmas. The author's research was over a four year period and speaks to the quiet leader and how they see themselves. At the end of the day, the message was that women don't need to be heroes to be quality leaders.

Personal Reflection:

I wanted to take a look at this most different approach, since quiet leader I am not. But, there is something to be said for knowing when to keep quiet. A good leader certainly knows when to keep quiet and when to speak up. There is a real need in understanding what in leadership works well. I must say, this topic is on overload. What works for one leader may not work for another. Conversely, it could work but on a different day, depending on the outcomes, worldviews and the leaders moral compass. Leaders are always expected to meet certain guidelines. With this is mind critical thinking is a must in achieving success in this area. What are the operating instructions for this process to work? This article makes a positive contribution towards that result.

Bruckmuller, Susanne, and Branscombe, Nyla, R. How Women End Up on the "Glass Cliff" Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review Magazine, Blogs, Case studies, Articles, Books, Webinars. Retrieved June 7, 2012, from women-end-up-on-the-glass-cliff/ar/1.

The author continues with the glass-ceiling theme that is prevalent in leadership groups with this title. The article looks at two experiments conducted regarding organizations facing crises. The view is that women break through better when this is true. They asked over 100 college students to read articles on a particular subject, one male and one female. The results depended largely on when the company was led by a man and doing well 62% chose the male. However, when the company was in crisis, 69% chose the female. What the article tells us is there is no "glass cliff" when this happens. Lastly, the authors conclude when determining what it takes to make great leaders, they say, is their own willingness to develop, regardless of their gender.

Personal Reflection:

I was fascinated by the title. I must admit I was first drawn to this article by it. It proved to be more than a play on the glass ceiling terminology. Leaders are made from hard work, fortitude, integrity, ethical values, and a willingness to learn and to be taught. They must ultimately be change agents. This is certainly the short list. But, these are examples of what the literatures says about the characteristics of not just good, but great leaders. However, in many organizations the question still remains, can a woman lead? I'm glad this article proved, at least from this research, women are not better than men, but both genders must be willing to take advantage of the opportunities and in order to lead one must increase their skills and abilities in the areas needed within their respective organizations. I think as more women are chosen to lead, and are successful, even if the circumstances are when an organization is in need of a turnaround, the result will be positive for women in general. I mean let's not forget "Xerox."

Catalyst, Increasing Gender Diversity on Boards: Current Index of Formal Approaches current-index-of-formal-approaches. Retrieved August 1, 2012.

This article looked gender diversity globally and whether organizations were on point with 21st century business in regard to this new phenomenon. Different countries do business with different approaches. Globally governments are open to women on the board as well as CEO. The article looked three key approaches: 1) legislation; 2) regulation; and 3) voluntary efforts. Whether these keys work are debatable, however, they all agreed that gender diversity was good, and business was better because of it. It is a tool showing women as the policy maker, and business leader.

Personal Reflection;

On a global level, I considered Golda Meir, Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Winnie Mandela, and locally Oprah. Before I go on, agree with her or not, we have learned so much from Oprah. For the most part, we never say her last name, although, for contents sake it's Winfrey. Oprah led her organization like a well-oiled machine. She shattered the ceilings, shifted the cliff and moved the edge of ledge. We could argue Oprah is an exception. That could be true, but the truth is women are capable, able and ready to lead businesses and organizations to the next level of success. Plus, like Oprah, if they are not promoted, they can head their own. This article was thought provoking and a valuable tool in considering women as the head of the corporate leader.

Cunningham, L. & Hamilton, D. J. (2000). Why not women? A fresh look at scripture on women in missions, ministry, and leadership. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing

This work takes a look at women in ministry leadership positions who feel trapped and bound by the idea that women should not lead. Or if they are allowed to lead, their roles should be limited. The author asks who or what determines a women's place in the Kingdom of God? These women feel the church will not support them in their leading efforts. Cunningham, etal discusses the role of women in the church, in missions and ministry. They ask the question if we are dividing God's purpose when we don't accept his truth. What is God's truth concerning women in leadership? If women have heard the call of god to serve in leadership roles, what is the Church's position?

Personal Reflection:

I am a licensed and ordained minister. My reaction to this practice is one of sadness and frustration. However, I am a baby boomer who grew up in a time when a woman's place was more in the home than anywhere else. But something happened economically that caused women to have to work outside the home. With that came a freedom that we cannot turn our backs on now. Women cannot go back to baking cookies and ironing shirts, only. My call to ministry may differ from the next, in that it may not be global and it may not be mega church. But, it is important in the grand scheme. I like many of my counterparts have longed to see ministry circles open for women to stand on the shoulder of the church and proclaim the message of Jesus, instead of looking over the church's shoulder to see Jesus as referenced in the article.

Dalton, Dan R., and Dalton Catherine, Women and corporate boards of directors: The promise of increased, and substantive, participation in the post Sarbanes-Oxley era: Publication date , Harvard Business Review 2010,

This article covers the board of directors, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and women in business in general. In recent years corporate board diversity has much focused attention. Women are here to stay and play an important role in the general management of many companies throughout the world. Regardless of the critics the article discusses the importance of women in key leadership board positions. The (SOX) or Sarbanes-Oxley is significant in the progress women have made in business. Corporations used this and a tool and guide for implantation in providing the right landscape for a positive environment for women to lead.

Personal Reflection:

The Sarbanes Oxley Act is a valuable tool. With this guide in hand, companies can regulate themselves and female employees can see continued progress in leading at the top. More importantly, women's leadership roles largely depend on the organizations willingness to adhere to rules and regulations guide lined by governing organizations such as SOX. The extents to which women can serve and be effective in Fortune 500 companies are increased when a careful eye is in place. This further assures the business community that Enron, and WorldCom will not happen again. It further says that women lead alongside a male counter-part and be treated fairly.

Eagly, Alice H., Carli, Linda L., (2007) Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership, Harvard Business Review, www. leadership/ar/1. Retrieved August 1, 2012.

These writers address the scarcity of women in top leadership. Further, they address the solutions that managers face when not knowing the difference between. They look at the percentages that tell the story of where women are in the workforce as highly paid executives. Most notably, they say, only 2% of CEO's are women, and only 15% of the seats on the board of directors are held by women. The blame, the article says is a quote from the 1986 Wall Street journal article written by Hymowitz and Schellhardt, "even those few women who rose steadily through the ranks eventually crashed into an invisible barrier." The executive suite seemed within their grasp, but they just couldn't break through the glass ceiling." The article deals with this metaphor by driving home its obstacles and sometimes insurmountable hurdles, such as, President Richard Nixons quote"I don't think a woman should be in any government job whatsoever, mainly because they are erratic." "And emotional." Other areas the article covers are walls all around which looks at a careful analysis of what they call the puzzles that lie ahead. The labyrinth is not simple not direct, they say, but requires persistence, awareness of one's progress. This is for women who aspire the top leadership position, full of twists and turns.

Personal Reflection:

I am gasping for air on this one. Both Alice Eagle and Linda Carli are psychology professors. Professor Carli's current research is on gender discrimination and other challenges faced by professional women. They helped me understand the truth. The way to the top for women is note easy or fair. There are barriers. But, one must find the way around them to be successful. Are men paid more and promoted faster, YES, but, the goals are attainable. I can. Because all labyrinths have a viable route to the center, it is possible.

Ely, Robin J., and Rhode, Deborah (2008). Defining the Challenges: Paper presented the Harvard Business School Centennial colloquium

Ely, etal presented this paper to the Harvard Business School in an attempt to show the requirements for women moving throughout society versus their male counterparts. The author's positions examine several how women achieve their success and the support they receive from their respective organizations. They present an agenda for change. They show an organizational change model represented by values that are in favor of gender diversity and fairness in leadership positioning. The full article is in Chapter 14 of "Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice: A Harvard Business School Centennial colloquium."

Personal Reflection

The article spoke freely regarding the dominant and assertive behavior of male counterparts in the workplace. As a matter of fact, these same words were used to describe this behavior as typical and unappealing and distasteful in women. Is a women's leadership abilities inhibited by these characteristics? As I look at organizational concepts, theories and change models, I wonder how effective these studies are, and how competent female management and governance can be as long as these trends continue to affect organizational perceptions of female leadership. I contend much more must be done in the area of women and leadership. How is the challenge defined from the male perspective?

Feldman, D. Retrieved March 11, 2012 Leadership Theory, Servant Leadership

The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women mentions Robert Greenleaf's servant leadership philosophy as the plumb line for leaders and leadership. Robert Greenleaf, in his essay The Servant as Leader, puts it this way: "It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead." This work describes Diann Feldman, Managing Director of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Queensland as she discusses this philosophy from various perspectives including how it compares with some other prominent leadership philosophies, how it can be implemented and her vision for the Greenleaf Center.

Personal Reflection

I am not an expert on this subject. However, I believe if the elementary school level would begin to show some interest in teaching this, I wonder what an impact it would make on society. Yes, we are fortunate at Geneva College, being a private school, regulated by religious communities. So when Ms. Feldman said she believes the authenticity of the work is because of a perceived "right" alignment, I concur. If educators were to take this perspective, I wonder how much more our education systems might be bountiful rather than disadvantaged said Ms. Feldman. However, until more schools begin to implement this line of training, I cannot say how much worse it can be. I am fuller and richer because of the writings of Robert Greenleaf. I don't think you can have any leadership discussion on servant leadership without Robert Greenleaf.

Frankel, L. (2007) See Jane Lead, 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at work New York, Warner Business Books.

The workplace is changing. From the boardrooms to non-profit organizations to the military, the typical male management style is now obsolete. There is a new generation of employees who reject hierarchical leadership and respond to the behaviors and characteristics that women traditionally exhibit. In other words, the time for women to take charge is now! In this work, a paradigm, or model was provided for women who want to get in touch with their natural leadership abilities. Once realized this can achieved on the soccer field, as well as in the board room.

Personal Reflection

I enjoyed the way this author used practical advice and anecdotes to get her point across. Dr. Frankel remained ardent as she shared her worst career and personal mistakes. I was challenged by this author's ability to coax and offer concerns about women leaders. She addressed their leadership styles and more importantly the use of her leadership strategies to help women succeed in a male dominated world. I also used her follow-up book to this one Nice girls don't get the corner office.

Frankel, L. (2010). Nice girls don't get the corner office: 101 unconscious mistakes women make that sabotage their careers. New York: Business Plus.

If you work nonstop without a break, worry about offending others, back down too easily, and explain too much when asked for information, or "poll" your friends and colleagues before making a decision, chances are you have been bypassed for promotions and ignored when you expressed your ideas. Although you may not be aware of it, girlish behaviors such as these are sabotaging your career. Dr. Lois Frankel reveals why some women roar ahead in their careers while others lie stagnate. She's spotted a unique set of behaviors "101 in all" that women learn in girlhood that sabotages them as adults. Now, in this groundbreaking guide, she helps you eliminate these unconscious mistakes that could be holding you back and offers invaluable coaching tips you can easily incorporate into your social and business skills. If you recognize and change the behaviors that say "girl" not "woman," the results will pay off in career opportunities you never thought possible and in an image that identifies you as someone with the power and know-how to occupy the corner office.

Personal Reflection

I totally identified with this authors coaching style. She was able to point out several mistakes women make in leadership that directly affects why they don't get the job. In several reviews of this book you will find the work invaluable. I have made many of these mistakes in career. This book will help any leader, although pointed towards women, recognize the need for a change in behavior may result in a more fruitful career.

Freedman, Russell (2004) The voice that challenged a nation: Marian Anderson and the struggle for equal rights. New York: Clarion Books. Retrieved from Worldcat/

August 1, 2012.

This is a detailed account of Marian Anderson, an African American vocalist in the mid-1930s. The conductor Arturo Toscanini is quoted as saying that her contralto voice was only heard "once in a hundred years." This account details racism, separatism and limitations on blacks at that time in American History. However, the story expresses to us just how Marion Anderson's leadership abilities emerged out of this awful behavior. Because of her stand she influenced such powerful people as Eleanor Roosevelt. She was welcomed at the White House because of her gift but, because of her race she was denied the right to sing. Through this unfortunate caused a fight for civil rights. Her involvement caused the changing of minds in the social and political climate of that day. She went on to give a riveting performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This lone act ended segregation in the arts. It changed American History forever.

Personal Reflection:

Of course I personally looked at this article because she was a singer like me. No, I am in no way as gifted. But, the fact that she persevered through what must have been some of the toughest times of her life, she was able to effect social and political change reaching up to today.

This is leadership in the highest sense. One act influencing others in accomplishing a life changing, society altering way of thinking. It guided, directed and caused others to consider their way of thinking, ultimately coming away with change.

Grzelakowski, M. (2005). Mother leads best: 50 women who are changing the way organizations define leadership. Chicago, IL: Dearborn Trade Pub.

The author documents how a woman's leadership style changes after she becomes a mother. Grzelakowski, who had two children while serving as a high-ranking executive at AT&T's Bell Laboratories, Motorola, and Dell, shares her experiences and interviews with 50 moms who are top Fortune 100 executives.

Personal Reflection

Any mother studying for a degree on any level will tell you it's stressful. In the back of your mind is that all important question, can this work? Can one juggle success and career? As a woman in leadership role, she is simply outstanding. Her achievements and accomplishments are outstanding. "Mother-Leaders" The author used this term to describe women as corporate leaders. She used motherhood as a paradigm in handling the volatile corporate arena. The books talks about transforming good leaders into great leaders. If you have ambition and talent, the women interviewed in this book helps you to see what it takes to maintain a work ethic and a broad perspective as you become an effective leader. The "maternal leadership model" gives you a competitive edge. I think this work is quite a different approach to leadership, however, I think any woman could readily identify with its approach to leadership. Even if a woman is not a mother one could see where this book is trying to take your thinking process. I personally found this work fascinating. The fact that women who have children and careers may have to choose between them is dreadful. I think women in leadership positions are strangled by this thought if it is not addressed in a positive manner.

Helgesen, Sally, Johnson, Julie (2010). The Female Vision, San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler.

This book was a collaborative effort designed to discuss several areas regarding female leadership. First, it drew on research that compared both women and men's perceptions. Bottom line way of thinking versus focusing on what really matters, the male verses female version. Helgesen and Johnson set a different tone in this writing steeped in academic research as well as a well-organized look at engaging a broad audience to look at how women lead in organizations today. The authors attempt to show a culture that is not always ready to accept women in leadership positions. However, globally the world is ready for it. Additionally, the work takes a look a global leadership which is seen as new, innovative, and noting change is prevalent.

Personal reflection:

I was very interested in the how one would recognize and value a woman's contribution in the workplace. Workplace experts Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson draw on their research into male and female perceptions of job satisfaction to show organizations how to understand and benefit from "the female vision." They identify a major leadership issue in companies' failure to recognize, these contributions. Their research finds that meaningful work and strong relationships motivate women. It's more than the salary with women. Women also recognize the consequences of sacrificing long-term goals for short-term profits. There is a danger in women not being considered for high-level positions. The authors make a compelling case for why managers should care about the lack of women in high-level positions and explain what companies can do about it.

Retrieved Retried March 6, 2012 from

Andrea Jung, a Chinese-American woman responsible for developing and executing all of Avon's long term growth strategies. She alone has been able to launch new initiatives resulting in Avon Products as the premier direct seller of beauty products. Her leadership style produced opportunities for women worldwide.

Personal Reflection

The study of a woman from an eastern culture is fascinating. Culture does make a difference and it must be considered. However, I think Ms. Jung's background proved vital in her success in bringing Avon back from a failing track record. The author's reflection of Ms. Jung is one of a transformational leadership style. Her approach shows vision. I found this to be true of her as I read of her accomplishments at Avon. This leadership style was able to turn around a failing company and bring it back to become one of the top in the field of beauty and cosmetics.

Kellerman, D, Rhode, D, O'Connor, S., (2007). Women and leadership : the state of play and strategies for change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint.

Women and Leadership brings together in one comprehensive volume preeminent scholars from a range of disciplines to address the challenges involving women and leadership. These experts explore when and how women exercise power and what stands in their way.

Personal Reflection

This work speaks to the great challenge that still remains as we make progress towards equal opportunity as it relates to women in leadership roles. The book leads you from theory to practice. This is a much needed process. Its one thing to read about the success of others, it's quite another to apply these things to one's own personal leadership process. I think your personal leadership style is what it is until you learn to cultivate it, be flexible for change; you can certainly start out one way, and end up with a diverse style that propels you straight to the top of the corporate ladder of success.

Kolb, D. (2010). Her place at the table: a woman's guide to negotiating five key challenges to leadership success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

The author used the word negotiating as a tool in introducing a woman's place at the leadership table. Negotiating the informed for intelligent decisions is called "drill deep." Negotiating for critical support is called "mobilizing backers." These are just two of the five negating steps in a road map to negotiating the 5 challenges. Dr. Kolb said organizations need to learn how women leaders negotiate. The five challenges as it is referred to provides 5 distinct ways to reach critical goals in successful leadership. This work is used as a guide in the leadership of women that considering the boardroom as their place in leadership.

Personal Reflection

I see a resonating theme for women leaders in this work that points to family. As more women than ever provide as the family's primary breadwinner, there is a definite need for guidance and instruction. Considering the statistics given on women with graduate degrees women seem to be qualified, yet the top positions in many organizations the top positions are not made available to women. There are many models of leadership to consider. Finding the right fit is crucial. Once you find it, how do you sell it to a top Fortune 500 company? Is there a new paradigm for women? What is the norm? I think women need to remain focused but flexible. The game changes and so do the rules at times. An open dialogue much like what is offered in the book is vital to women and women's leadership.

Lewis, J., (2012) Who was the first African American woman to serve in Congress? Retrieved from

An excellent in depth study on the first African American women to serve in Congress at a time when prejudice against women created a hostile environment. This is the story of Shirley Chisholm as she made a symbolic bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the first African American and the first woman whose name was placed in nomination at the convention of either major party for the office of president. The book talks about the term benevolent sexism which was prevalent at this time. The term meant that women should be cherished, protected, and financially provided for. It certainly did not mean that women would serve in the U.S. Congress.

Personal Reflection

This study has improved my thinking when it comes to politics and politicians. I once thought of it as a job. However, I have discovered politicians should be servant-leaders. They are elected by the people to serve the people. One would be hard pressed to find that happening in today's society. I dare say, though, it's possible it is being practiced somewhere. There is much more to be read and studied on this subject. The leadership styles of Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan certainly laid the right foundation on the subject. They were transformational,

Macrow-Vongalis, Athena, Gallant, Andrea (2012). Stepford Women in the Workplace, (Harvard Business Review, Retrieved August 1, 2012 b in_the_workplace.html.

These authors take a look at women in leadership from a research perspective. Some of the books they read include, Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, which is listed earlier in this bibliographical account and Dress for Success and Women don't ask Negotiation. The research took a look at several key factors previously discussed by the experts in determining a women's success in leadership positions. Is being competent more important that looks? The research found that looking the part was more important in women being considered for leadership than competence. This is particularly interesting in the authors comment as she argues this as a sexist remark. Their look at critical examples from several works to conclude the topic is so vast that it sometimes seems daunting, if not exhausting, (Vongalis-Macrow, et al) 2012. Personal reflection:

This was an outstanding look at this vast topic from a research viewpoint. Research spells out the facts and at the end of the day, the numbers speak for themselves. For example, the research not only presented the ambiguities and flaws but also the unambiguous and clear. I particularly enjoyed the play on the terms from Stepford to Step Forward indicating this a movement in the transformation of positive leadership attributes held by women. The authors tell women to move away from the familiar and step forward into new ways of leading by developing relationships. This topic continues to be open for much more discussion and positive dialogue.

Obama, M. (2011) Retrieved from video/2011/06/24/first-lady-michelle-obama-addresses-young-african-women-leaders

This is a look at the First Lady's, Michelle Obama's, speech on Leadership in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. She addresses 76 young African women leaders from age 18-30. And I want to pause for a moment on that word -- leadership -- because I know that so often, when we think about what that word means, what it means to be a leader, we think of presidents and prime ministers. We think of people who pass laws or command armies, run big businesses, people with fancy titles, big salaries. The speech speaks to true leadership that lifts families, leadership that sustains communities and transforms nations -which kind of leadership rarely starts in palaces or parliaments. That kind of leadership is not limited only to those of a certain age or status. And that kind of leadership is not just about dramatic events that change the course of history in an instant. Instead, true leadership often happens with the smallest acts, in the most unexpected places, by the most unlikely individuals.

Personal Reflection

"If you strike a woman, you strike a rock" This statement was so profound to me, I will never think of myself the same. Maybe I can't change any laws, I may not win any awards, I may never get my picture in the paper, but, I would like to make a difference in the lives of people. I want to be part of something greater than myself. In some small way, I want to help build a better world. I am so inspired by this message of hope of global leadership shown by Michelle Obama. I am here today against all odds. But through this academic exercise I am convinced that women are not and never will be second class citizens. I am Woman, Hear me roar!

Ryan, Michelle, Halsam, Alexander, (2005). The Glass Cliff: Evidence that Women are Over-Represented in Precarious Leadership Positions. British Journal of Management, 16:81-90. Doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8551.2005.004333.x.

This work distinguishes the research and speculation regarding the obstacles in play on the way up the corporate ladder for women. It suggests while women are confronted by the "glass ceiling" more men benefit from a "glass escalator" Ryan, etal (2005). It continues to observe what positions women are given and if they are risky or precarious, hence the term "glass cliff." 100 FTSE companies where considered and the outcomes indicated that women were not only promoted but escalated to high performance positions when the companies were in decline. Adler, etal (2000) concludes "there is little doubt that women continue to be disadvantaged in the workplace and underrepresented in leadership positions.

Personal Reflection:

Before the term "glass ceiling" was coined in a 1986 Wall Street Journal report on corporate women by Hymowitz and Schellhardt.2 no one considered the contribution of women the boardroom. Up until this point I thought the term was 100% complimentary, now I'm not so sure. For example, (Judge, 2003, p.21) looked at Britain's 100 top companies. The Judge report of the companies with 100% male boards outperformed FTSE 100 in 2003. They concluded "corporate Britain may be better off without women on the board" (p.21). No one concludes women are "wreaking havoc" on the finance of companies, Ryan, etal (2005).But, a serious look at the association when women are appointed to boards and when companies are in trouble was necessary. However, this topic continues to have as many pros as cons, agreements and disagreements. Albeit, the work is fascinating, and worth the time and effort is takes to prepare the right questions. For without the right questions, stereotypes flourish. It is important to Note: the Times articles author E. Judge (2003) is a woman.

Rogak, Lisa (2009). The Views and Values of America's First Lady, Michelle Obama in Her Own Words, New York, Public Affairs in Paper.

This work is quite different than all of the others. It takes many of the thoughts, speeches, articles, transcripts and more from the desk of Michelle Obama. The editor was able to grasp the real side of the tremendous 21st century woman leader. The book offers a framework through which many leadership questions are asked and answered on a personal and public level.

Personal Reflection:

The world of leadership is vast and yet each leader brings to the table an individualistic character and appeal unique only to them. Michelle Obamas uniqueness has developed quite a following aside from her place as the 1st Lady of the United States of America. Her leadership qualities are steeped in family values, traditions and behaviors. If it's true in order to be a leader you must have followers, then this history maker has balanced all of her duties, mother, wife, advisor, etc. in an exceptional way.

The 21st century has developed and witnessed the rise of "followership" as a major consideration in our understanding of leadership Kellerman (2008). Women continued to be empowered through education and new technology. Michelle Obama's academic abilities alone went across culture as evidenced in her speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention. She is multi-talented and gifted in ways that an entire country can benefit by what she offers. Her leadership has impacted a nation. I think she defines leadership through actions not rhetoric.

Sacher, Leila, A Woman in the White House, Retrieved August 1, 2012 from

The White House Project (WHP) is an advocacy organization working to make a women President of the United States. Is this possible? The project certainly thinks so. The projects trains and equips young women as leaders. Basically, it gets young girls and women in politics in hopes that one day they will be elected as President of the US. They believe media and marketing play a huge role. They even have a President Barbie. This is used as a training tool. Conversely, they are responsible for the television show Commander in Chief. The main goal of the project is getting girls involved in politics while they are young.

Personal Reflection:

This proves to be a valuable tool in the learning process for young people. I'm not endorsing any political agenda; however, I only wish something like this was available when I was a young girl. Not so much with the emphasis on politics, but certainly with the vigor and enthusiasm they display in working towards a goal. Here we have leaders with followers, working towards a goal or goals while remaining within a particular environment with the same cultural values and norms. Leadership at its best!

Underwood, J. (2004). More than a pink Cadillac [Mary Kay Inc.'s 9 leadership keys to success. Burlington, N.C. S.l: McGraw-Hill Audio American Media International.

The book is a remarkable insight into the leadership culture of one of world's largest cosmetic companies. The author, Jim Underwood shares the biography of a modest woman with great expectations. He is able to show success based on choices not circumstances.

The book documents an era when profit making dominates the headlines. On the contrary he parallels the life of a humble, energetic, charismatic leader that is able to reach the masses and yet run the company with dignity and grace, and most importantly, make money. Lots of it.

Personal Reflection

Can an average woman lead in today's market? Can a woman (or man) lead with ethics in the foreground and still be successful. This was my take on May Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. I know people that are involved in this line of cosmetics as we speak, and they are making money. This to me says, this process works, and her leadership style must be considered. If Warren Buffet bought 9.3 million shares in this company, I guess one could say it works for me. It is said Mary Kay Ash always told her employees "you can do it honey." This reminded me of a scripture in the bible found in the book of Philippians 4:13. This passage says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I'm not sure Mary Kay Ash knew anything about scripture, but I will say this, the principle is the same. You can do it! Yes you can.

Wajcman, Judy (1998) Managing like a Man, Women and Men in Corporate Management, University Park, PA. Blackwell Publishers.

Managing like a Man, et al is an excellent overview in dealing with gender specific issues. It focuses on the processes of masculine organizational culture that sexualizes woman, excluding them from senior management. This book looks behind the rhetoric and investigates the gender relations of senior management in post equal opportunities world. Further, it takes a critical look at women's and men's experience in a changing corporate climate.

Personal Reflection

The gender problem still exists. It is very much alive and well. I hate to think about it, but it's true. Not acknowledging it is not healthy. A woman must know this going in. This book helps you realize that and deal with it. This book tells you to critically examine concepts, theories and models to address the issue and deal with it. The problem may not be eradicated, but there are processes in place to lessen its effect.

Retrieved March 7, 2012 Women and the Vision Thing, HBR (2009)

The research is the key thing is this book. The research drew on 360-degree evaluations of 2,816 executives from 149 countries enrolled in executive education courses at Instead. As with most 360-degree exercises, these managers filled out self-assessments and invited subordinates, peers, supervisors, and other people they dealt with in a professional context, such as suppliers and customers, to evaluate them on a set of leadership dimensions. In total 22,244 observers participated. See the sidebar "Critical Components of Leadership" for a description of the Global Executive Leadership Inventory, or GELI. This was found in the article entitle "vision impaired."

Personal Reflection

I could hardly believe my eyes and ears. Was still happening in 21st century? Yes, it still remains true, even after all this time. Biases against women still remain in the business world. Yet, I was well informed in this writing. As with any research, the data is the key. I must take more time and consider the data before making a final judgment. However, I learned a key strategy is to "stay close to the details." As women begin to step into bigger leadership roles they must be aware that the rules of the game change, and a different set of skills comes to the forefront. This is another theme that seems to run throughout the study of women in leadership, the rules of the game changes. This is worth looking into

Zenger, Jack, Folkman, Joseph (2012) Are Women Better Leaders tan Men, Harvard Business Review, Retrieved August 2, 2012 somen_do.html.

These writers are reference as leading authorities in many of the leadership articles and books on women. This writing is a companion article to the next bibliography entitled Gender Shouldn't Matter, But Apparently It Still Does. Zenger, etal (2012). This article reported the results of a survey done ( where the hard numbers spoke for themselves as they relate to how women compare to men as top level managers. The survey was done with over 7,000 people, including bosses, peers, and associates from successful and progressive organizations, both public and private. The authors have over 30 years of research experience. They were able to show what was important to overall leadership effectiveness. The data showed that women were rated very high as overall leaders versus their male counterparts. Bottom line, the women scored higher than the men. The authors wanted to show women were strong in leadership and not just in traditional "women's strengths."

Personal Reflection:

I am encouraged and empowered by these statistics. It is worth noting the articles pointed out the majority of top leadership positions are held by men, but that doesn't mean women are exceling in boardrooms every day. Women can build relationships, exhibit integrity while moving a company to the next level as a top executive. The capabilities of women have moved beyond "nurturing" competencies and noted in the article, but women leaders have shown themselves more than capable in exhibiting superior leadership abilities. I am invigorated by this.

Zenger, Jack, Folkman, Joseph, Gender Shouldn't Matter, But Apparently It Still Does, Harvard Business Review, Retrieved August 2, 2012 from shouldn't_matter_but_app.html.

This article is in response to Are Women Better Leaders than Men? The authors continue an in depth study and the outcomes has been dramatic, to say the least, according to the authors in This is a follow up. The writing delved deeper into the data in search of more answers. One of the categories was choosing the right person for the job. One of the questions asked what causes a manger to choose a person. This article looked at the pattern in the data to answer these questions. Yes, they admit the majority of senior leaders are still men, and the higher up in the organization you go, the greater the disparity. But, some of the data revealed when it came to excellence, the numbers told a different story. Both male and females where perceived quite differently. However, some patterns can be explained by the makeup of the candidate pool. For example, there are fewer male engineers. Surely, the data proves the numbers reflect upper managements subjective belief's about how people perform in their roles. The data proved some of these beliefs to be wrong.

Personal Reflection:

In my study in the MSOL program, I have grown very respectful of the numbers. This article and many others have proved outcomes quite different after having done the research. One must always delve deeper to find the correct outcome. Leadership is a process. It is not controlled by gender. There are many factors and considerations when choosing the right candidate for a job. Effective leadership looks beyond, gender, race, age and any other factor that would separate a careful look at the abilities of a person. Research suggests that women can break through the glass ceiling, not it is time for the gummy floor to recognize it.

Zichy, Shoya, (2001). Women and the Leadership Q, The Breakthrough System for Achieving Power and Influence, New York: McGraw-Hill.

The author's intent was and attempt to educate women to better use their leadership personality and advance on the job. The book's strength is in its engaging profiles. Leaders both women (and men) form the NASDAQ, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley were interviewed and spoke highly of the creative work. It provides a leadership quiz that allows profound insights into one's own character. It's a personal guide for self-analysis.

Personal Reflection:

While the 21st century shows much promise for women in leadership, knowing your leadership style is vitally important. Because women share many leadership styles, this helps you gauge yourself against accomplished women with similar personality types enhancing your leadership capabilities in all areas of life. This book charmed me. I have not taken the quiz, but I plan to take it. I particularly liked the foundation of the model and the 8 leadership styles, which is a new and different take from our studies so far. A political theme runs through the leadership styles. There are comments from US Senators, Barbizon Modeling executives. There are sections on the reds, blues and gold's. This is a must read.