Are women better leaders than men?
Harvard Business Review explored this topic in a recent study that examined more than 7,000 men and women leaders, measuring 16 different attributes.
The study found that in measuring the attributes – which included taking initiative, developing strategic perspective, driving for results and developing others – women outperformed men in all but one of the areas and significantly outperformed them in four.
So why are there so few women in high leadership roles? In Harvard Business Review’s study, which compiled data from some of the most successful and progressive organizations in the world, the majority of leaders (64%) are still men.
Women leaders provided an inside look at the challenges women face in rising to the top and how their professional journeys may different from that of their male colleagues during Randstad’s Women Powering Business breakfast and panel discussion.
Do Women Really Want C-Level Status?
Patricia Falotico, Vice President at IBM, said that a growing number of professional women have decided to steer clear of the leadership track in favor of a better working environment.
“The attractiveness of the C-suite has lost some of its luster,” Falotico said. “More and more younger women have decided they don’t want that. They don’t want to put themselves in an environment that is not nurturing, even if they have the capabilities.”
What’s also lacking is the element of sponsorship for women and the opportunities to take chances, Falotico said.
“You have to have that sponsor who pulls you along and nurturing that kind of relationship is so important,” she said. “Also, have we been tested sufficiently? Have we been given the opportunity to take a chance, perhaps make mistakes and not have them be fatal?”
Lack of Structure For Women Leaders
Another way women could succeed as leaders is providing a workplace more conducive to families, said Emory University professor Dr. Pamela Scully. She compared America to Europe and said the U.S. is way behind in creating a workplace structured for parenting. The structure could be changed, she said, if businesses provided more childcare at work, more maternity/paternity leave and other factors.
“In America, we tend to think of failure and success individually without paying attention to the structure,” Scully said. “We haven’t been good at creating structural conditions for women to succeed and have children and not have to make choices. Women are faced with impossible choices and not supported as mothers.”
A Blend is Best
Stacie Hagan, Chief People Officer for EarthLink, Inc., said businesses succeed most when men and women work together and that companies who don’t allow women to succeed will suffer overall.
“Men and women bring different qualities to leadership and that’s why a blend is best,” Hagan said. “If we want to have a whole brain making decisions at the table, we should make sure we bring these diverse perspectives together. If women aren’t pursuing these roles because of the structure of companies, businesses won’t be able to compete.”
Women in Leadership Panelists:
• Keynote speaker: Susie Wolff, a development driver for the William’s Formula One (F1) team
• Academic: Pamela Scully, Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies, Emory University
• Business: Pat Falotico, Vice President, IBM
• HR: Stacie Hagan, Chief People Officer, EarthLink, Inc.
• Philanthropic: Marilyn W. Midyette, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta
Can women have it all? It’s a question that has fueled numerous debates during morning talk shows, on Internet comment boards and around water coolers.
When Anne Marie Slaughter’s controversial article was first published in The Atlantic in July 2012, it became a talked-about subject in the months ahead, even sparking counterpoint pieces in The New York Times.
Answering the question inspired a nuanced and in-depth discussion about the realities of work-life balance for today’s working women during Randstad’s Women Powering Business breakfast and panel discussion. At the recent event, a group of high-profile women leaders dissected the subject and discussed whether “having it all” really is a myth.
Balance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
As Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Inc., Marilyn Midyette said she finds balance by defining the equation for herself – instead of other people’s expectations.
“I think balance is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s based on what your expectations are,” Midyette said during the discussion. “I’m really concerned about people feeling like they have to define balance based on anyone else’s definition. It’s got to be what works for you.”
Midyette tackles “having it all” in seasons. “In one quarter,” she said. “I may hunker down because I have some major initiatives that I need to get accomplished. In another quarter, it may be my kids are getting ready to go off to college and I want to be present for that.”
Navigate Around The Potholes
Having it all is possible, as long as women dispel the myth that work and life have to be equal parts all of the time, according to Patricia Falotico, an IBM executive. She shared a personal story of when she was caring for her sick father. “There were days when I had to be daughter first and executive second,” she said. “You can do it all — all that you choose to do — but you have to be able to navigate around the pot holes.”
Forget Balance, Consider Work-Life Integration
Emory University professor Dr. Pamela Scully said she tells her students to be more realistic about having it all. In her own life, Scully said, she is now focusing on new priorities now that her children are older – something she could have never done five years prior when she was “going to work and looking after my kids.”
“What I tell my students is, ‘I don’t think you can have it all – all at once, but maybe over the long haul in life you can.’ If you approach it as work-life integration, it’s much easier to think about.”