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Research: Women and Leadership

Women, better leaders for the modern workplace?

  • Major European study of 65,000 people reveals why there are comparatively few female business leaders
  • ‘Dominant coalition’ of boards favours ‘male’ personalities
  • Women sacrificing instinctive traits to mimic male leaders – need to be themselves and push themselves to the fore

Women could be better suited to lead modern organisations, according to a major international study by global recruitment and talent management consultancy, Hudson.  Despite this, the struggle of women to break into the boardroom is likely to be made more difficult by the current economic situation.

The study, which involved data drawn from assessments and psychometric testing of more than 65,000 people around the world over several years, reveals the different working and leadership styles of men and women of various ages and positions.  It found that women’s natural characteristics and working style hampers their route to the top, and that they break into senior leadership positions by adopting or mimicking a ‘male’ leadership style.

The study, Could the right man for the job be a woman?, asks whether women are forced to mimic male behaviour because those are seen as the qualities that are inherently required to lead an organisation, or whether organisations themselves are still failing to support or recognise the value in ‘female’ characteristics.

The study found that:

  • C-level women show personality traits that are almost the opposite of women in general.  Like C-level men, C-level women score very high on extraversion, decisiveness, strategic thinking, results-focus and autonomy. 
  • C-level women, contrary to their male colleagues, also pay attention to more typically female characteristics around altruism and openness.
  • Younger female leaders appear to focus rather on altruism, people orientation and cooperation, experienced female leaders on their end concentrate on openness and thought leadership.

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