Women in corporate are faced with the unique challenge of striking a balance between not being taken lightly for their gender, yet not being seen as pushy. Most of the times, this creates the “double-bind and balancing them with a style that is effective and also feels like a good fit is difficult.
If they assert themselves forcefully, people may perceive them as not acting feminine enough, triggering a backlash. But if they act in a stereotypically feminine way, they aren’t seen as strong leaders. The shortage of female role models, also make learning leadership styles by observation is difficultly. After all only 2% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women!
With more male leaders to watch, navigating through the issues related to female stereotypes cannot be learnt on the job.
Women leaders clearly navigate a different societal and organizational landscape than their male counterparts. But to advance in modern organisational hierarchy, women must cope with the “second generation” gender bias, structural and attitudinal barriers to leadership roles, battle inflexible work hours to strike a work- family balance. And though the challenges may be many, its time women stepped forward to develop their leadership identity.