Women As Leaders

More and more women are rising to the leadership challenge, even in some of the most male-dominated industries. The increase in the number of women attending university, in the workplace or starting their own business has demonstrated to men who own businesses that women can be both managers and mothers, thus showing their male counterpart that women can in fact "do it all". In this paper the history of women in the workforce will be outlined, as well as the challenges they face. The changing attitudes towards women taking over family businesses will be looked at briefly, how women lead along with a comparison to how men lead, and a critique and conclusion of their leadership style will also be discussed.

History and The Challenges Women Face
A number of events have occurred over the last twenty-five years or so that have resulted in the rise of the female in the work-for-pay world. Beginning in the mid-1970\'s, women began going to business school and earning their Master\'s of Business Administration and, as a result, building on that education and gaining work experience (Nelton, 1999). The days of the one income family are over. Females need to be armed with a university or college degree to be a contributor to this century\'s model of the family unit and in this time of "education inflation", the demand for higher education is growing at a staggering rate. In the corporate sector, the generation of women who entered the corporate world two to three decades ago have blazed the trail now followed by ever-growing numbers of women (Shaiko, 1997).
The great strides women are making in the work force can be attributed to numerous factors including the:

"passage of equal employment opportunity
legislation\'s, modifications in job requirements,
more females on the buying side, elevated
educational achievements by females, more
women in business schools, the huge percentage
of female business school graduates with
\'androgynous\' orientations, and the willingness
of many young women to postpone marriage and
child-bearing." (Comer, et.al, 1997)


While women continue to make progressive strides toward equality, few have risen to the highest positions-leading companies to the new millenium (Andorka, 1998). Fortunately, women can now demand equal treatment in their respective organizations as a result of the aforementioned changes in history. Many companies have policies in places that require equality at work and punishment for those who do not adhere to such policies.
There is a vast amount of evidence that women tend to occupy less powerful, lower paid, and lower status organizational positions than men. These divisions not only occur vertically, but on a horizontal scale as well. Women who seek to enter management level positions fight against stereotypes, discrimination, and myths, not to mention the fight to balance work and family. They have also been overwhelmed by unfamiliar products, skeptical clients or customers, guy talk, a scarcity of female associates and little or no empathy (Comer, et.al., 1997). Sheila Wellington, President of Catalyst, a non-profit organization for the advancement of women to corporate and professional leadership, said in a speech on October 23, 1996 to the Economic Club of Detroit in Detroit Michigan:

"Let me be clear, I believe that most obstacles
to women\'s advancement to the top are not
intentional, they are a result of unexamined
assumptions about women\'s career interests
and of policies and practices that have existed unquestioned over time in the corporate culture.
With real commitment to change, the situation
is remediable." (Wellington, 1996)


Perhaps, the "glass ceiling" that women are under is not the intent of their male counterparts. I believe that it is the socialization of men and women in our society that has lead to this imbalance in the work force. But, somewhere along the line, men have to realize and acknowledge the socialization they have endured is creating much disharmony and discontent among their female colleagues.

The Torch is Passed- to the Daughter
Twenty years ago, there was no place for women in most family businesses (Nelton, 1999). If they did have a position, it was presumably as secretary, assistant, or some other "behind-the-scenes" role. The traditional successor to the family business was the first-born son and if there was no son, then the widow was discouraged from running the company and urged to sell the business. Those days have