Are men really better leaders? The traditional mindset is always that women do not make good leaders because men are by nature better leaders. The topic of women in business has long been a contentious one: Are they ruthless enough? Are they more style than substance? Are they too emotional? Are they going to get pregnant? Are they worth the same fat pay cheque as men? It seems that whenever a woman is promoted to a head of a large business, there will always be a male commentator quick to ask one or more of the above questions.
So why is this so? Simply because we do not monitor every move male senior managers make as avidly as we watch women. We do not scrutinize men’s actions, but do so for every female leader. But it may be blamed on the fact that there are just too few women holding senior or top positions in today’s growing democratic world. Women are like guinea pigs, being observed critically so that we, males, can get the best results of women’s capabilities.
According to the Human Development Report 2004 for Singapore, only 25.8% of admin or management positions are occupied by women. According to research, women are found to be as apt and as bad as male counterparts who are holding similar positions. The good ones make good leaders and the bad ones bully to maintain their positions – typical of any male counterpart. Women bring no more disadvantages to the workplace than men, and offer just as many benefits.
Here’s the list of truly successful businesswomen out there: Ms Anita Roddick, the founder of Body Shop; Ms Jennie Chua, chairman and CEO of Raffles International; Ms Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Cosmetics, the world’s biggest direct-selling cosmetic company; and Ms Cathleen Black, president of Hearst Magazines who also sits on board of IBM and Coca Cola.
Here’s the list of successful female leaders in politics: Ms Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s 1st female Prime Minister; Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s Opposition Leader who was kept under house arrest for 2 decades and won the Nobel Peace Prize; Ms Tarja Halonen, Finland’s 1st female President in Year 2000; Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s 1st Female President and Africa’s 1st woman to win the president seat; Ms Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s female President, who was sent to exile in Australia and East Germany after the 1973 Chile coup.
While women in business and politics face better prospects than they did a decade ago, they still appear to be on the receiving end of prejudice. A straightforward example can be derived from a simple Google search, if one runs a search for “great businesswomen”, one will get this message, “Did you mean: great businessmen?”
Here are some links to very useful articles and statistics on this issue: