Despite the many initiatives in recent decades to bring more women into leadership roles, gender bias in organizational structures persists. The authors suggest several techniques that organizations can implement to overcome that bias and help women develop leadership skills.
The authors examine why women continue to be significantly underrepresented in leadership roles, despite the many initiatives in recent decades to correct the imbalance. They describe several factors that seem to influence this “second-generation” gender bias and evaluate three approaches to leadership training that they believe would be useful in overcoming this type of gender bias and bringing more women into leadership roles.
How Is This Article Useful to Practitioners?
Research has shown that organizations with a higher percentage of women in leadership roles benefit from that gender diversity. Many companies are putting considerable time and funds toward the goal of increasing gender diversity in leadership roles. A clearer idea of why gender bias persists and what steps might be effective in increasing the percentage of women in leadership roles would help these companies use their resources more effectively.
The authors find that overcoming second-generation gender bias requires educating both men and women about the factors that create this type of bias and make it more difficult for women to develop effective leadership skills and the willingness to take on leadership roles. Creating safe “identity workspaces” to help women develop their sense of identity as leaders and encouraging women to focus more on leadership purpose rather than on how they are perceived by their peers are other techniques the authors suggest.
The specifics of the techniques described by the authors would be useful information for organizations to consider incorporating into their leadership training strategies. Given the complexity of the process involved in acquiring leadership skills, it would be interesting to see research that evaluates the implementation of the authors’ ideas or that takes a different approach.