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2023 Winning Essay – Guo L

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Guo L, 100% Scholarship Winner

How Important Is It to Have Strong Female Leadership?

Why is it that when people think of leaders, more people have images of men in their

minds? When we talk about workplace dilemmas, patriarchal societies seem to be very good at and accustomed to using a kind of occupational gender segregation to stereotype men and women. This has led to the perception that many “high-paying occupations” are out of reach for women solely because of their biological gender identity. With the continuous emergence of women breaking through stereotypical thinking, there are more and more female leaders with significant social impact. As Alice Eagly and Linda Carli argued, the idea that women are effective leaders jumped from the authors of feminist management business books into mainstream media and popular culture. The importance of elite female leadership has gradually become a major social focus. This paper states that female leaders play a crucial role in providing emotional value to subordinates and balancing the gender structure of the company. 

What makes a good leader? It’s not just about having strict rules and regulations to manage employees and make profits, but also about having enough vision; open, active minds, and empathy. In other words, good leaders need to be rational and sensible, and these two traits can coexist. Therefore, empathy, awareness, and other stereotypical feminine traits are good qualities for leaders and can better highlight the advantages of flexible management. McKinsey & Company concluded based on a survey that measures managers’ supportive actions by manager’s gender that “women are doing the lion’s share of the emotional labor at work”, from the perspective of the relationship between superiors and subordinates in the company. The humanistic experience generally created by female leaders can better provide emotional value to colleagues and subordinates and stabilise a company structure. Everything in the world is not black or white, and having an emotional side does not mean that you cannot have a rational management ability. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review article, Are Women Better Leaders than Men, 3 out of 16 core leadership skills, women outperform men in 12 aspects, including taking initiative and building relationships, which are two skills that have been stereotyped as leadership qualities for men only.

At the same time, female leaders can balance the gender imbalance in the company. The fact that women experience workplace difficulties, as female leaders of sexual minorities, led them to be aware of the potential bias derived from patriarchal society or the hegemonic masculinity of male leaders. Also, females do better adopting the style, with a supportive attitude, to find more female employees’ potential and provide guidance that helps them better develop their careers and reduce gender imbalance. To be clear, this does not place too much of a focus on female empowerment or excessive female privilege but rather demonstrates that a successful individual can be a leader regardless of their gender.

Last but not least, it can be seen that in the future, it is very important to focus on and support the recognition and growth of female leadership in a world that increasingly emphasises inclusion and elimination of binary opposition. Therefore, women with strong and flexible management abilities will inevitably occupy an important position in the future of open, caring, efficient, and flexible work mode.

References

A. Eagly., and L. Carli., ‘The Female Leadership Advantage: An Evaluation of the Evidence’, The Leadership Quarterly 14 (2003): 807-834.

McKinsey&Company, ‘Lean on Me,’ 14 January 2022 [https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/sustainable-inclusive-growth/chart-of-the-day/lean-on-me last accessed: 21 August 2023] 

J. Zenger and J. Folkman, ‘Are Women Better Leaders than Men?’ Harvard Business Review23 July2014[https://hbr.org/2012/03/a-study-in-leadership-women-dolast accessed: 21 August 2023]

A. Eagly, M. Johannesen-Schmidt, and M. van Engen, ‘Transformational, Transactional, and Laissez-Faire Leadership Styles: A Meta-Analysis Comparing Women and Men.’ Psychological Bulletin 129 (2003):569-591. [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12848221/ last accessed: 21 August 2023] 

J. Yoder, ‘Making Leadership Work More Effectively for Women’ Journal of Social Issues 57 (2001): 815-828 [https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/0022-4537.00243 last accessed: 21 August 2023]

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