What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions
Therefore, it is obvious that stereotyping needs to be addressed at both the organizational/ situational and personal/psychological levels. (Daly & Ibarra, 1995) Yet, whether they are based on unconscious, psychological assumptions or on situational factors, it is well-known that stereotypes are resistant to change. The question remains, if high-achieving women entering the ranks of leadership today were allowed to cultivate their natural abilities—instead of trying to be “leadership appropriate” they developed their own “voice” and strengths—would they be successful in today’s corporations given the prevailing stereotypes and structures?
In recent years, Fels (2004) found the results of the BSRI with college women in the US indicate an increased identification with more of the masculine traits while only dropping a few of the feminine ones. Apparently, women are becoming more confident, assertive, independent, athletic, self-reliant and willing to take risks. Yet they are still compassionate, sensitive, flatterable and understanding. Is a new style of “femininity” emerging? Is it possible that the workplace will embrace these women when they become leaders more than they did the women of previous generations? Or will the predominate power structures continue to hold them down? It’s possible that an evolution is occurring in our society that will eventually support a rise of women in power and a true meritocracy. In the meantime, women need strategies for holding their own and organizations need programs that support and encourage their efforts. (Kanter, 1993)