Many people think that gender inequality is a thing of the past, but it is far from the truth. We can still see a culture and a society that favors men rather than women. Despite the progress made by the feminist movement, machismo continues to be defended and manifests itself in many contexts. In this article, we will talk specifically about women's leadership and discrimination.
One of the most striking evidences of the existence of a machismo rooted in culture is the absence of women in leadership positions. Leadership has traditionally been treated as a male issue. Although we are increasingly accustomed to seeing women in positions of responsibility, the proportion of women leaders is still very low. In fact, if we talk about management positions in large French companies, we must emphasize that only 15% of business leaders of 20 or more people are women.
Differences between men and women in leadership
In recent decades, a multitude of studies have been conducted to try to find the relationship between leadership and feminine discrimination. One of the first hypotheses that has been explored is whether there are differences between men and women in leadership and if these are the cause of the scarcity of women in positions of responsibility and power.
In 1990, Eagly and Johnson conducted a meta-analysis of 162 leadership studies. In this research, they separately analyzed the different behaviors of men and women in positions of power. The results showed that there were gender differences in the behavior of leaders.
Men tend to be more authoritarian, aggressive and very task-oriented. However, women lead with a more democratic, participatory and relationship-oriented style. Both styles are closely associated with gender stereotypes in today's culture.
However, after analyzing the existing differences, the first evidence for a relationship between leadership and female discrimination emerges. Leadership studies show us that democratic, participatory and relationship-oriented leaders are far more effective than those who are not. So, how is it possible that women, with this model of "good leadership", do not have a high percentage of positions of responsibility?
The effects of leadership and discrimination against women
Then we will talk about two effects that stem from machismo and make it difficult for women to gain leadership positions. It is important to understand that while there is no explicit gender inequality, the machismo implicit in our culture and education has an equally negative effect on women.
The effect of the glass ceiling
The term "glass ceiling" refers to the existence of an invisible barrier that prevents women from gaining leadership or leadership positions. The existence and influence of gender stereotypes are the main explanation and justification of this glass ceiling.
Let's not forget that the figure of the leader is not something individual, because without followers, there is no leadership. Because of the prejudices against women, we find that followers reject their legitimacy as leaders. In addition, there is a strong tendency to associate senior positions with men. Author Schein coined the term "think manager-think male "to refer to this phenomenon.
On the other hand, an effect associated with the glass ceiling is the concrete ceiling. This last term refers to situations in which it is the woman herself who limits herself to a position of responsibility. It also happens because of the machismo implicit in gender stereotypes, generating in women an anxiety to get out of what society expects of them.
The effect of the glass cliff
We have already mentioned that there are many difficulties in women's access to positions of responsibility, which clearly shows the relationship between leadership and discrimination against women. But what happens when a woman occupies a managerial position? This is where the effect of the glass cliff appears.
The glass cliff alludes to the fact that when women move into managerial positions, they tend to be more precarious and are associated with a greater probability of failure and criticism than those held by men. It seems likethink manager-think male ceases to have an effect when the leadership position is associated with a crisis situation.
Thus, when it comes to filling a position of responsibility with a high probability of failure, a woman is generally sought. Like this, we turn to the phenomenon think crisis-think female. Research is still needed to determine the causes of this effect, but the main assumptions are those that speak of better management of crisis situations by women or even assumptions in favor of male manipulation to increase the failure of women in management positions.
In conclusion, it is important to realize that gender inequality is still very much present in our culture and society. The only way to combat it is to research and critically monitor all the social, cultural and educational aspects that foster a relationship between leadership and female discrimination.