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Unconscious Gender Bias: Implications for Women's Leadership Development

JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES, Volume 12, Number 1, 2018
© 2018 University of Phoenix
View this article online at DOI:10.1002/jls.21566
ere is still no question that we do not have enough
women leaders in politics, business, government,
education, nonprots, and other settings and sectors
around the globe (Adler, 2015; Goryunova, Scrib-
ner, & Madsen, 2017) although hundreds of studies
have documented the benefits of having women in
top management and leadership positions in any type
of organization and in society (Madsen, 2015). In
addition, it is clear that gender and other types of diver-
sity are vital in today’s world for groups and organiza-
tions to thrive. Hence, a continued focus on developing
leadership skills and abilities in women through a host
of leadership development eorts and interventions is a
critical imperative for organizations and communities
today. Yet, researchers have noted that the majority
of leadership development programs currently being
designed and implemented are not eective, which sug-
gests that simply providing more options is not the best
solution (e.g., Bierema, 2017; Boatman & Wellins,
What is the answer to ensuring that leadership
development eorts are eective for the development of
women leaders and can actually move the needle both in
organizations and in society as a whole? First, it is criti-
cal that those who design and develop these interven-
tions have both the education and expertise to do so.
For women’s leadership development, this means that
designers and developers must have a background and
experience in leadership, gender, adult learning, and
organizational change (Bierema, 2017). Second, wom-
ens leadership development must be based on current
research and theory (Madsen, 2017). us, the design,
development, and content of eective women-only pro-
grams, the focus of the current article, must align with
the current literature. In terms of content, the subject
of unconscious gender bias has been excluded from
many womens leadership development programs, yet
Ibarra, Ely, and Kolb (2013) argued that it should be
a foundational element of these programs. ey pur-
ported that “persistent gender bias too often disrupts
the learning process at the heart of becoming a leader”
(p. 61). e purpose of the remainder of the current
article is to take one critical leadership development
content component—unconscious gender bias—and
use it as an example to demonstrate how eective wom-
ens leadership programming can be guided by theory
and research.
Unconscious Gender Bias Theory
and Research
Research focusing on conscious or deliberate biases
toward women, particularly in workplace settings,
has led to the study of unconscious bias. Unconscious
gender bias (also referred to as implicit or second-gen-
eration gender bias) occurs when a person consciously
JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES • Volume 12 • Number 1 • DOI:10.1002/jls 63
rejects gender “stereotypes but still unconsciously
makes evaluations based on stereotypes” (American
Association of University Women, 2016, p. 24). Ely,
Ibarra, and Kolb (2011) dene it as “the powerful yet
often invisible barriers to womens advancement that
arise from cultural beliefs about gender, as well as work-
place structures, practices, and patterns of interaction
that inadvertently favor men” (p. 475). According to
Cook Ross Inc. (2016), unconscious bias was Sigmund
Freud’s primary gift to the science of the mind and
drove the development of modern psychology, but it
has been overshadowed by behavioral psychology for
many decades. Today researchers are nding that an
awareness of unconscious bias can help leaders funda-
mentally rethink the way their organizations approach
strategic decision making, organizational culture,
inclusion, and talent management (Cook Ross Inc.,
2016). As such, it should be a key element of women-
only leadership development programs (Bierema, 2017;
Diehl & Dzubinski, 2016; Ely et al., 2011).
e current section highlights a few tools that emerge
from theoretical and conceptual frameworks and can
be directly applied to workplace settings in a host of
cultures and contexts. Addressing bias begins with
becoming aware of those biases both externally (e.g.,
organizational practices, individual actions) and inter-
nally (i.e., gender bias within oneself) (Madsen, 2017).
Ross (2014) argued that even people who view them-
selves as progressive on gender issues and dynamics,
including women themselves, have hidden gender-
based biases. Although most womens leadership lit-
erature focuses on helping women navigate the biases
around them, interventions geared toward helping
women strengthen their leadership by becoming aware
of their own biases is only now beginning to emerge
(Bolton, 2016).
Ely et al. (2011) argued that successful leadership
programs consist of more than simply organizing
pieces of content. ey proposed specic theory-based
design principles that should undergird any leadership
development program specically for women. One of
these principles is that programs should situate topics
and tools in an analysis of unconscious bias. is means
that program facilitators must use related research to
inform the way leadership topics are taught and tools
are utilized.
Programs should oer women an “empirically based
framework for diagnosing their workplace experiences
and taking eective action” (Ely et al., 2011, p. 486).
Ely et al. (2011) found that women are less susceptible
to the negative eects of unconscious bias once they
become aware of how it is manifest within an organiza-
tion (e.g., few role models, organization practices, sub-
optimal networks, and excessive performance pressure).
After women are aware of these biases, program facil-
itators can take standard leadership topics and tools
(e.g., negotiations, leading change, networking, 360°
feedback, and managing career transitions) and help
women interpret them through an unconscious bias
lens to “facilitate women leaders’ identity work and
movement into leadership roles” (Ely et al., 2011,
p. 475). When program participants have a deeper
appreciation for how unconscious gender bias operates
in their organizations, their commitment to being a
change agent on behalf of other women is also strength-
According to Bierema (2017), “there is a range of
approaches that organizations can take on issues related
to developing and advancing woman leaders according
to theories of change from a feminist perspective”
(p. 156). She provided detailed descriptions of six strat-
egies (moving from weakest to strongest) that orga-
nizations can use to consciously assess active change
strategies: (a) xing individual women; (b) valuing the
feminine; (c) “adding women and stirring”; (d) making
small, deep cultural changes or “small wins”; (e) cre-
ating new organizational structures, and (f) transform-
ing gendered society. She explored the limitations of
the strategies, particularly how most reinforce current
problematic attitudes and practices as well as systemic
biases, and makes recommendations for more eective
approaches. e nal two strategies have the potential
to result in lasting organizational change and sweeping
social change respectively. Bierema argued that organi-
zations with a low awareness of unconscious gender bias
lack strategies to address structural inequity, a practice
that thwarts the entities’ eectiveness. Her gender con-
sciousness framework can be utilized by organizations
to determine where they t within awareness, action,
unconsciousness, and consciousness.
ese theory-based principles and frameworks can
be directly applied as tools for strategic change in
64 JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES • Volume 12 • Number 1 • DOI:10.1002/jls
organizations. In particular, the design of women-only
leadership interventions should be carefully crafted
based on the frameworks in order to increase women’s
awareness of their own biases and how various types of
biases (e.g., gender, prejudice, racism) are manifest in
their organizations. Once women become conscious
of their own biases, they can identify how biases are
reinforced through structures, policies, and practice,
and initiate change to impact organizations positively.
Because of limited space, we cannot provide greater
detail on the frameworks, but we encourage readers to
refer to the original sources.
Implementation Factors
In order to eectively implement leadership programs
that have unconscious bias as a foundational compo-
nent, we broaden the discussion to critical components
of women-only leadership training and the need for
these programs to have a distinct, inclusive focus that
recognizes the various identities of women through an
unconscious bias lens. As we established earlier, under-
representation of women leaders in all sectors of society
continues to be an issue in spite of signicant invest-
ments in leadership development programs (Gurdjian,
Halbeisen, & Lane, 2014; Kassotakis & Rizk, 2015).
is points to the need for more eective approaches.
Recent research emphasized the need for women-
only leadership development programs (Ngunjiri &
Gardiner, 2017) as opposed to mixed-gender training.
Such programs should not be deciency-based, focusing
on topics such as personal branding and assertiveness,
but should provide a safe place for women to engage
with each other, unpack bias issues, and create networks
of support (Ely et al., 2011; Kassotakis, 2017). Indeed,
creating a safe environment for women to explore
their potential, share successes and failures, and receive
feedback, mentoring, and coaching is a critical element
in womens leadership development (Debebe, 2011; Ely
et al., 2011; Sugiyama, Cavanagh, van Esch, Bilimoria,
& Brown, 2016; Vinnicombe, Moore, & Anderson,
2013). Women in mixed-gender training programs do
not feel free to share concerns that are unique to them
(Ngunjiri & Gardiner, 2017).
Additionally, women tend to have a participative,
rather than a directive, leadership style (Vinnicombe
et al., 2013). As such, womens leadership programs
may conceptualize the leader’s role as relational whereas
mixed-gender programs emphasize the leader as one
who manages business performance (Sugiyama et al.,
2016). Teaching women to lead in a masculine way is
not eective (Ngunjiri & Gardiner, 2017) despite pres-
sures for women to behave like men in business organi-
zations (Ely et al., 2011; Vinnicombe et al., 2013) and
to believe that this is how women need to behave to be
successful (Ngunjiri & Gardiner, 2017). e uncon-
scious bias within women themselves and within orga-
nizational structures, practices, and policies must also
be explored.
Ngunjiri and Gardiner (2017) introduced an inter-
sectional model, which accounts for how “gender inter-
sects with race and other identities” (p. 431), based
on three components. The first exposes hierarchical
discourse that ignores women in the theory and prac-
tice of leadership development. It encourages a nuanced
treatment of power and privilege by considering the
range of identities represented by women rather than
just the single category of gender. Second, focusing on
gender alone does not address issues related to the com-
plexity of womens identities and the need for inclusive
practices to ensure that leadership roles are not just for
women with traditional privileges. e last element
of the model considers global issues and their impact
on the development of women as leaders and identity
changes due to culture and context. e premise behind
the intersectional theory is “to ensure that leadership
development programs are cognizant of the intersecting
roles women play, and the identities women occupy,
in an environment that is safe for engaging in identity
work” (p. 434). Underlying the intersectional approach
to women-only leadership development is the construct
of unconscious bias.
Adding unconscious bias as a component to leader-
ship development is a nascent development, and to be
eective, it must be based on genuine knowledge and
expertise, a point that is emphasized in a recent Harvard
Business Review article that acknowledged “growing
skepticism about whether unconscious bias training
is an eective tool to meet corporate diversity goals”
(Emerson, 2017, para. 1). e article, titled “Dont Give
Up on Unconscious Bias Training—Make It Better,”
JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES • Volume 12 • Number 1 • DOI:10.1002/jls 65
observes that unconscious bias can be taught eectively
only if it is designed and implemented in certain ways,
which include gender bias training along with a host
of other types of unconscious biases. In fact, a recent
meta-analysis found that training can be eective, but
it depends on content, length, audience, accompanying
eort, and other factors (Emerson, 2017). e content
must be geared toward specic behavioral outcomes,
and this is important for women-only training as well.
Emerson highlighted “three evidence-based tenets to
guide the design of any unconscious bias training”
(para. 5). First, “strike a careful balance between lim-
iting defensiveness about unconscious bias, while com-
municating the importance of managing bias” (para.
6); second, “structure the content around workplace
situations” (para. 7); and third, “design training to be
action oriented” (para. 8).
Researchers have provided additional guidance toward
the design of effective programs. For example, Cook
Ross Inc.’s (2016) and Ross’s (2014) research found that
program participants need to begin their development
by increasing awareness of their own unconscious bias,
which will help them navigate others’ biases as well.
ey also need to learn to reframe related conversations
from negative constructs to positive ones—for example,
shifting conversations about discrimination to topics of
respect, fair treatment, and inclusivity. Using examples
of hidden bias from the attendees’ own workplaces or
similar settings gives experiential examples for mean-
ingful training and development. Additionally, Ely et al.
(2011) noted, “participants can share their feedback with
bosses, direct reports, and peers to counter gender stereo-
types that might otherwise bias these coworkers’ percep-
tions of participants’ leadership potential and leadership
eectiveness” (p. 481). Eectiveness also depends on the
degree to which organizational leaders have strengthened
their own awareness of their unconscious biases.
The purpose of the current article was to take one
critical leadership development content component—
unconscious gender bias—and use it as an example
to demonstrate how effective womens leadership
programming can and should be guided by theory and
research. We argue that training and development must
include the element of unconscious gender bias to help
women leaders overcome invisible barriers and recog-
nize such bias in themselves and in their organizations.
More broadly, it has also established the critical need
to improve the eectiveness of leadership development
programs for women by ensuring that training is based
on current research and theory focused on gender, lead-
ership, adult learning, and organizational change. We
also highlight a few research-based tools, principles, and
strategies that serve as theoretical frameworks. Finally,
we provide some examples of how these can be imple-
mented in leadership development interventions to
inuence practice and policy so that women can more
fully contribute to today’s organizations.
Lastly, it is also important to mention that “the con-
text must support a woman’s motivation to lead and
also increase the likelihood that others will recognize
and encourage her eorts—even when she doesn’t look
or behave like the current generation of senior execu-
tives” (Ibarra et al., 2013, p. 62). Because men have
historically been in the workforce longer and continue
to hold the majority of leadership positions, “these ste-
reotypically-masculine leadership styles continue to be
viewed consciously and unconsciously as superior to
stereotypically-feminine styles” (Correia, 2016, p. 43).
According to Ibarra et al. (2013), “despite a lack of dis-
criminatory intent, subtle, ‘second-generation’ forms
of workplace gender bias can obstruct the leadership
identity development of a company’s entire population
of women” (p. 63). All of these elements are critical to
understand so that womens leadership development
eorts can strengthen the impact of women in organi-
zations and communities around the world.
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and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Susan R. Madsen is the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of
Leadership and Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business
at Utah Valley University. Dr. Madsen is considered one of
the top global thought leaders on the topic of women and
leadership, has authored or edited six books, and has pub-
lished hundreds of articles, chapters, and reports. She is a
sought-after globally recognized speaker in local, national,
and international settings. She had founded many women’s
networks, and she serves on a host of nonprot, community,
and association boards and committees. She has received
numerous awards for her teaching, research, and service.
Dr. Madsen is also coediting the seven-volume book series
focused on Women and Leadership. Communications can
be directed to
Maureen S. Andrade is a professor in the Organizational
Leadership Department at Utah Valley University. She has
an EdD in higher education leadership from the Univer-
sity of Southern California. She also holds the distinction
of Principal Fellow from the Higher Education Academy
JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES • Volume 12 • Number 1 • DOI:10.1002/jls 67
in the United Kingdom for leadership in teaching and
learning, evidenced by a consistent record of impact at
institutional and international levels. Dr. Andrade’s
research interests are business education, international
student transitions and linguistic development in schools
of business, assessment, and learning outcomes for business
programs, expatriate adjustment, leadership, and work–
life balance.
... At the global scale, it is noteworthy that women comprise approximately 50 percent of the populace, yet their remuneration remains significantly lower in comparison to their male counterparts [5,9] . Only an insignificant percentage of women have attained the position of CEOs and are board members ( [43,31,15,38,42] . The glass ceiling approach prohibits women from attaining positions in the top management (Kunze & Miller, 2017;Huang et al., 2019) [38,33] . ...
... The rate is really slow and the process is highly questionable in terms of various strategies, implementation and the innovative practices adopted to ensure women empowerment. Training and development must include the element of unconscious gender bias to help women leaders overcome invisible barriers and recognize such bias in themselves and in their organizations (Madsen & Andrade, 2018) [42] . By actively engaging in a critical examination and restructuring of decision-making procedures that may give rise to gender biases, it is possible to diminish the occurrence ...
... The rate is really slow and the process is highly questionable in terms of various strategies, implementation and the innovative practices adopted to ensure women empowerment. Training and development must include the element of unconscious gender bias to help women leaders overcome invisible barriers and recognize such bias in themselves and in their organizations (Madsen & Andrade, 2018) [42] . By actively engaging in a critical examination and restructuring of decision-making procedures that may give rise to gender biases, it is possible to diminish the occurrence ...
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The issue of gender equality in employment has given rise to numerous policies in advanced industrial countries, all aimed at tackling gender discrimination regarding recruitment, salary and promotion. However, these policies have tremendously failed to make much of a headway to address a crucial issue at hand. And it has been observed that varying degree of workplace discriminations are handed out to women because of their gender. Yet gender inequalities in the workplace persist. The purpose of this study is to understand, analyses and evaluate the gender bias at workplace/ organizations. Moreover, the study makes a novel attempt to understand as why despite of the initiatives and interventions, the issues is yet to get resolved. The current study adopts a descriptive approach to exhibit the various discriminations meted out to women at the workplace. The study has extensive drawn from secondary sources of literature and an attempt has been made to provide a thorough insight on the issue of gender stereotypes and how it results in discrimination of women. The study is unique in a sense as despite multiple initiatives and policies still the issues loom large. Hence, the study makes a holistic attempt to understand as the root cause of the problem. Despite numerous policies women are facing discrimination at the workplace. The major reasons for the same is the mindset of the society which will take some time change. Moreover, one of the major findings is that women are still lacking the respect in the society.
... Thus far, females that have risen to the top as heads of state do not hold on to that leadership position for long (Adler & Osland, 2016;Geiger & Kent, 2017;Madsen & Andrade, 2018). For example, as Geiger and Kent (2017) elucidate: ...
... Merkel's success navigating stereotypes contradicts norms, considering that a metaanalysis encompassing 69 studies on leadership and stereotypes deduced that stereotypes regarding leadership are indubitably masculine (AAUW, 2016;Chin et al., 2018;Koenig et al., 2011). Females, in contrast to males, experience more societal and judgmental stereotypes (Adler & Osland, 2016;Chin et al., 2018;Eagly, 2018;Eagly & Diekman, 2005;Keohane, 2020;Madsen & Andrade, 2018;Mushaben, 2018aMushaben, , 2018bPhillips, 2016;Ridge, 2015;Thompson & Lennartz, 2006). One such stereotype females encounter is the belief that females are less likely to be associated with leadership in comparison to men (Latu et al., 2013;Liu, 2019). ...
... This limits their CD (Hentschel et al., 2019). Women's interest in ICO is one way to enhance CD (Madsen and Andrade, 2018). As well interest in ICO can also contribute to providing better leadership positions for women and greater agency in their ongoing careers (Linehan, 2001;Zamanan et al., 2020). ...
... Third, our findings showed that ICO were not associated with CD of women employees. This finding is against the arguments made by some researchers (Hentschel et al., 2021;Linehan, 2001;Madsen and Andrade, 2018), who argued that interest in ICO can contribute to providing better leadership positions for women and improve their CD. ...
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Despite the importance of career development in the life of an employee, this concept changes dramatically when it is used from a gender point of view. This study aims to identify the barriers of career development among women employees in the Jordanian private sector. This study employed a survey questionnaire as the main technique for data collection from a sample of 337 respondents. The results indicated that family responsibilities, gender discrimination, leadership support, and organisational culture as the main barriers of career development for women. As the results indicated, career empowerment and internal career opportunities are not barriers of career development for women. The originality of the study is centred around examining career development using two dimensions namely, internal career development and external career development. In addition, this study takes a deep view of career development, by examining factors that may be barriers of career development among women employees.
... Os vieses inconscientes acabam formando uma barreira invisível e poderosa que dificulta o avanço das mulheres nas corporações e, por outro lado, favorece os homens. Estudos mostram que a tomada de consciência sobre o impacto negativo dos vieses inconscientes pode ajudar as pessoas a terem uma nova forma de olhar e pensar sobre a importância de uma cultura inclusiva e do aumento dos talentos femininos 9 . Para isso, primeiramente é preciso identificar os principais vieses, dos quais destacamos cinco neste artigo: viés de maternidade, viés de afinidade, viés de comportamento, viés de desempenho e viés de percepção. ...
Eles são considerados racionais, assertivos e competentes; elas, emotivas, obedientes e colaborativas. Vieses inconscientes fazem com que mulheres tenham maiores dificuldades que homens nas contratações e promoções, especialmente no primeiro passo para o nível gerencial.
... In this experimental study our main interest is to find out whether women in the perpetrator role receive more moral anger and dispositional attributions (for instance, a malicious intent) for workplace mistreatment than male perpetrators. An unconscious or implicit gender bias is an observer error of judgment and occurs when a person unconsciously makes gender-distinct evaluations based on gender stereotypes (Madsen and Aradne, 2018). Women mistreating co-workers are likely to violate persistent gender stereotypes and social role expectations that they are (and should be) warm and communal-oriented, while men are (and should be) assertive (Eagly and Wood, 2012;Zedlacher and Salin, 2021). ...
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Introduction Ambiguous psychological workplace mistreatment such as insulting or ignoring a co-worker might trigger gender bias. This study aims to examine whether female perpetrators receive more moral anger and blame from observers than men. Methods A sample of Austrian workforce members ( n = 880, 55.00% women, 44.89% men, 0.11% diverse) responded to standardized videos showing a perpetrator’s angry insult and a perpetrator’s exclusion of a co-worker from lunch. In total, we edited 32 video clips with four female and four male professional actors. We manipulated the following variables: 2 perpetrator gender (male/female) * 2 target gender (male/female) * 2 types of mistreatment (insult/exclusion). Results As hypothesized, linear mixed-effects modeling revealed more moral anger and attributions of intent against female perpetrators than against men. Significant three-way interactions showed that female perpetrators were judged more harshly than men when the target was female and the mistreatment was exclusion. Female targets were blamed less when the perpetrator was female rather than male. Male targets did not evoke attributional biases. Observer gender had no significant interaction with perpetrator or target gender. Discussion Our findings suggest that gender biases in perpetrator-blaming are dependent on target gender and type of mistreatment. The stereotype of women having it out for other women or being “too sensitive” when mistreated by men requires more attention in organizational anti-bias trainings.
Purpose Despite several policies in the Arab Gulf States aimed at promoting women’s empowerment through employment, women’s career progress has not met the expected gains. Workplace empowerment is a critical aspect of women’s economic empowerment. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate the factors that contribute to workplace empowerment for women in the Qatari public sector. Design/methodology/approach This research uses a mixed-methods approach to explore workplace empowerment among female civil servants in the State of Qatar. The study combines surveys ( N = 310) and interviews ( N = 30) and uses an inductive thematic approach that considers women’s narratives as the primary source of knowledge construction. Findings The authors’ findings strongly suggest that perception-related factors have a more significant impact on workplace empowerment than structural ones. The results indicate that feelings of disempowerment are influenced by perceptions of gender-based discrimination, poor relationships with supervisors and dissatisfaction with work–life balance. Women feel empowered when they have access to decision-making opportunities and perceive that their workplace supports their professional growth and advancement. Research limitations/implications Although this paper focuses solely on women’s perceptions, additional research is necessary to compare the experiences of both men and women regarding workplace empowerment. While individual and organizational factors were examined in this paper, future studies should also consider societal factors. The results highlight the importance of equal and supportive organizational practices and cultures to foster empowerment among women in the workplace, providing valuable insights for policymakers. Originality/value This paper addresses a critical research gap on the intersection of gender, work and management in the Middle East. It responds to the need for more diverse contextual research on Arab women’s work experiences and provides methodological diversity by using an exploratory, mixed-methods design with a grounded approach. The study highlights the interaction between structural and psychological factors, emphasizing the gap between policies and resources and women’s lived experiences and perceptions of workplace empowerment.
Purpose The purpose of the paper is to explore gender variations in entrepreneurship and internationalisation from the perspective of the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm; in particular, the paper explores how differences in the personal idiosyncrasies of both males and females in part account for the variations in export internationalisation. Design/methodology/approach The study draws on extant literature on the critical success factors in entrepreneurship and internationalisation research (e.g. foreign market knowledge, firm-level technology and firm age) as the conceptual framework to explore the issue. The study is based on 21 male and 17 female export entrepreneurs from Ghana and uses a descriptive research design (i.e. frequencies and chi-square test) to analyse the results. Findings The results show that the perceptions of male and female exporters differ on key internationalisation success factors based on extant literature. Implicitly, whilst both groups shared a similar degree of basic knowledge on a few export success factors, across most of the other key export success factors, the male counterparts demonstrated a more expanded view compared to the females. The results support the assumption of the RBV theory applied in this study to argue that to account properly for the internationalisation outcomes of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the personality characteristics of the owner entrepreneurs are critical resources which cannot be ignored. Research limitations/implications In terms of limitation, the study is exploratory study based on non-probability sampling methods using descriptive frequencies tables and analysis of chi-square test and so readers must bear this limitation in mind in interpreting the results to improve on future studies. Originality/value The paper contributes to the empirical literature by offering a unique perspective regarding how women and men perceive and interpret export success factors and how that impacts on the internationalisation outcomes of women and men. The paper responds to calls by researchers (e.g. Terjesen et al. , 2011; Ratten and Tajeddini, 2018; Kuschel and Labra, 2018; Javadian and Richards, 2020) to populate studies on the topic to deepen the present understanding. By using data from Ghana, West Africa, the study sheds a fresh insight on the topic from an under-studied and under-researched geographical context.
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Leadership development experiences have long been touted as necessary and positive for promoting the practice of effective leadership. Yet, little has been presented about the effectiveness of leadership development programs sponsored, designed, and implemented by membership-based organizations, like fraternities and sororities. This study examines the efficacy of a national fraternity sponsored leadership development program for chapter presidents in facilitating a meaningful developmental experience and encouraging long-term learning gains. Data collected at three intervals throughout the year in which program attendees were in office were analyzed using ANOVA and t-tests to identify the specific areas in which students reported learning gains and then measured examining the extent to which learning was retained.
Abstract Purpose Based on the transformative learning theory, this paper analyses a French women-only training programme (WOTP) that aims to develop women’s soft skills in their professional contexts. This paper aims to focus on the process of personal transformation, the collective dimensions and the unexpected effects of the transformation. Design/methodology/approach This paper used a mixed qualitative design that mainly combines a qualitative two-step study of 47 women to assess their personal changes in terms of self-confidence, self-efficacy and assertiveness. This paper used 13 semi-structured interviews to explore the perceived changes in-depth. Findings The analysis shows that beyond “fixing their lack of skills” – including self-limiting behaviours, low feelings of self-efficacy and difficulty claiming one’s place – a WOTP can trigger a transformational learning experience at the individual level and can modify the surveyed women’s attitudes and behaviours at work. The results also highlight the collective dimension of transformation and, to some extent, an avenue for a societal transformation. Practical implications One can state that these WOTPs may positively contribute to human resources development in organisations, and that they may be considered a relevant practice in the move to promote women and gender diversity in organisations. Originality/value The findings reveal that, at their individual levels, these women may become agents of change by influencing and acting in their professional lives. The results stress that training women may contribute to organisational changes in terms of gender diversity. These findings contribute to the enrichment of the transformative learning theory by developing the collective and societal dimensions.
This chapter summarizes the background and available data on the current status of women in regions and countries around the world as it relates to political leadership. The authors then provide current data on the state of women in business leadership, which includes sections on the general situation of women on corporate boards, women as chief executive officers (CEOs) (including entrepreneurs), and women in senior management roles in regions and countries. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of gender parity and provides examples from various groups on when this parity is predicted to occur.
In a changing world where women have dominated as graduates from universities in the West, recent research has shown that the same trend is also strikingly evident in the newly emerging markets. Tapping into this female talent pool is extremely important and advancing women's careers has become a key business issue. This Handbook lays out a number of promising approaches. First the business case for doing so is presented. The challenges facing women are reviewed, followed by various programs that address particular needs such as mentoring, leadership development programs for women, work and family initiatives, and succession planning. Finally, case studies of award-winning organizational initiatives are described. © Susan Vinnicombe, Ronald J. Burke, Stacy Blake-Beard and Lynda L. Moore. 2013. All rights reserved.
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Even when CEOs make gender diversity a priority by setting aspirational goals for the proportion of women in leadership roles, insisting on diverse slates of candidates for senior positions, and developing mentoring and training programs they are often frustrated by a lack of results. That's because they haven't addressed the fundamental identity shift involved in coming to see oneself, and to be seen by others, as a leader. Research shows, the authors write, that the subtle "second generation" gender bias still present in organizations and in society disrupts the learning cycle at the heart of becoming a leader. Women must establish credibility in a culture that is deeply conflicted about whether, when, and how they should exercise authority. Practices that equate leadership with behaviors considered more common in men suggest that women are simply not cut out to be leaders. Furthermore, the human tendency to gravitate to people who are like oneself leads powerful men to sponsor and advocate for other men when leadership opportunities arise. The authors suggest three actions to support and advance gender diversity: Educate women and men about second-generation gender bias; create safe "identity workspaces" to support transitions to bigger roles; and anchor women's development efforts in their sense of leadership purpose rather than in how they are perceived.
Trends in extant literature suggest that more relational and identity-based leadership approaches are necessary for leadership that can harness the benefits of the diverse and globalized workforces of today and the future. In this study, we compared general leadership development programs (GLDPs) and women’s leadership development programs (WLDPs) to understand to what extent program descriptions addressed inclusive leadership—leadership that draws on relational skills to value both the uniqueness and belonging needs of diverse identities to create business effectiveness for the long term. GLDPs predominantly reflected pedagogical assumptions of separate knowing, development of the autonomous self, and masculine leadership approaches of agentic and transactional leadership. In contrast, pedagogical assumptions of connected knowing, development of the relational self, and relational and identity-based leadership approaches were more prevalent in WLDPs. These findings suggest that WLDPs continue to offer significant value to supporting women leaders in their advancement, yet both WLDPs and GLDPs can do more to be inclusive of additional diverse identities to better develop leaders of the future who can lead with inclusive behaviors. We suggest a pedagogical framework for inclusive leadership development that may better balance and promote synergies between achieving business priorities and relating to others and their diverse identities.
Despite an abundance of educated, qualified women in the workforce, they continue to be underrepresented at the top of institutional leadership hierarchies. Theories of gendered organizations explain that work processes reproduce gendered structures of society in the workplace. These processes advantage men while forming barriers to women's success. This paper extends critical human resource development (HRD) theory by applying the concept of sexism hidden in the workplace to leadership and by outlining both social and organizational practices that create gender inequities in leadership. Our cross-sector analysis of women leaders in religion and higher education revealed twenty-seven gender-based leadership barriers which operate at the macro, meso, and micro levels of society. We argue that most current efforts to promote women into leadership focus one by one on only a few barriers, primarily those within organizations, while failing to take into account the wide variety of barriers and their prevalence across all societal levels. We offer strategies to address barriers across all three levels to help organizations create gender-equitable leadership environments.