The Labyrinth Path to Female Leadership

by xmorand on October 5, 2017 - 5:14pm

It is a well-known fact that females are much underrepresented in leadership roles. In fact, in 2016, only 19% of the Congress was composed of females. In this article, Alice Eagly, Lori Beaman and Christopher Karpowitz discuss this issue.

First, Eagly states that it is often hard for women to achieve such leadership roles because women are seen as communal and friendly people, which makes it hard for them to prove their toughness and to prove they can handle such a role. On top of that, when women demonstrate that they too can be tough, people see them as being too tough, since it goes against the female stereotype. That being said, more and more women are achieving such positions and overcoming this inequality does not impossible anymore, it is comparable to a maze, where “finding the right path is a challenge but persistence and careful thought pay off” (Eagly).

Second, Karpowitz also brings up an interesting point; as a matter of fact, he points out how when women are outnumbered by men during a debate or discussion of the sort, they are less likely to speak up than if they are surrounded by other empowered females, which is a considerable issue. Madeline Albright, the first women to become Secretary of State, mentioned that she had been in that situation and had not spoken up, but when a male figure later said the exact same idea as she had in mind, other males thought it was brilliant.

Finally, Beaman mentions a potential solution to this gender inequality issue: election quotas. She states that in India, a certain amendment states that a third of the roles need to be reserved for women. Although this could have a great short-term impact, she discovered, through a personal experiment, that villages that had had a female leader for the past years were less likely to be influenced by the prejudices about women.

Personally, I believe that governments should make an effort in the promotion of women I such leadership roles because they are equally a part of society and should have the chance to speak up. I also think that, in 2017, the general population should also start being open-minded towards such a change which should have occurred long ago. As for solutions to this issue, what do you guys believe would help women overcome this inequality? Do you agree with the solution proposed by Ms. Beaman?


I chose your summary, because I find it sound and concise. I think you have grasped perfectly the argument made in your article and summarized it effectively. Moreover, your work is incredibly well-organized, with transitional words that facilitate the reading.

I personally plan to pursue a career either in a financial organization or in a high-tech industry. Those are two domains typically represented by the stereotypical image of the brilliant and aggressive male ideal. Therefore, the issue discussed in your article particularly interests me, since I question the role I will fulfill as a woman in such masculine organizations.

I found another reason that explains why it is so difficult for women to achieve leadership roles; the ‘’self-fulfilling prophecy’’, also called the ‘’stereotype threat’’. When the stereotype of women seen as too communal or too friendly persists, women can internalize this false idea. As such, they do not believe they can assume leadership roles and that decreases their performance. I find it especially outrageous that young women involuntarily are promoting stereotype through internalization. I think that election quotas would be a efficient solution to solve gender inequality, both for men’s perception and from women internalization.

Source: Jonsen, K., Maznevski M.L., & Schneider S. C. (2010). Gender Differences in Leadership - Believing is Seeing: Implications for Managing Diversity. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal (vol. 29, no. 6), 549-572, doi:

This is a very interesting topic these days, that’s why I chose this summary to comment. Firstly, I really like your approach to this issue by “promoting women” instead of just creating rules!

Indeed, even if we apply laws equalising men and women, this will never change the perception of women in a society. In many domains, especially finance and politics, we clearly see a division between the two genders in matter of the employment ratio, and sadly, the salary of a woman doing the same tasks as a man.

In many conservative societies, especially in the East, women are usually seen at home doing “women tasks” such as cooking and cleaning… For example, in this essay book titled “Japanese Women,” many authors express the Japanese society’s struggle with accepting women in many domains. Even if the government implemented laws to protect women at work, such as the “Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL)” it did not change the population’s perception of women. Indeed, even if they have “equal” employment opportunity and salary, they end up doing more tasks than men do in the same amount of hours. The only way is to promote women’s work, because for the same idea, a man would be more praised than a woman, and “as long as a gendered division of roles in the household” exists, woman will be able to have and equal place in the society. In reality, it depends on men, if they are willing to help women in these situations.

As for my opinion, I am totally convinced that in order to make women equal in the society, we, as men, need to accept them and stop being blinded by old cultural and historical stereotypes. Women can do everything men can do, there are no exceptions.

Ueda, Y., Fujimura-Fanselow, K., & Kameda, A. (1996). Japanese women: New feminist perspectives on the past, present & future]. Resources for Feminist Research, 25(1), 37-38. Retrieved from

I chose this summary because I feel concerned by this topic. As a woman who wants to study in software engineering, which is a position mostly occupied by men, I feel that our society needs to overcome the gender inequality in workplaces. As Xavier points out in his summary, it is hard for women to achieve leadership roles because they are perceived softer than men. In addition, Ward and Eddy (2013) mention that it is also because women are associated with children and parenting, while having a leadership job seems incompatible with such a lifestyle. However, women have already overcame, in the past, the stereotype that they should stay at home and take care of the kids. They are as capable as men to be devoted to their job and accomplish leadership roles. In the article that I read, Ward and Eddy (2013) suggest that Institutions should help to create a good working environment for individuals who wants to achieve their professional goals as well as having a family life, that current leaders should promote the accomplishments of women in leadership positions and include both, men and women, in discussions about mentorship, gender, leadership, and development.
Our society should overcome the challenge of the gender inequality. The world would be enriched by new ideas and new concepts if we give the chance to women to speak up and propose their ideas.

Source: WARD, K., & EDDY, P. L. (2013, December 13). Women and Academic Leadership: Leaning Out. Chronicle of Higher Education. p. A27.

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