Generations ago, women in leadership were unheard of. Since then, women have infiltrated various leadership roles from corporate to governmental (Northouse, 2013). However, although they make up almost half of the labor force in the United States, women are still the minority in leadership positions when compared to men (Northouse, 2013). Women have come a long way in terms of obstacles faced in career growth, but still face issues discrimination in the form of wage gaps, child-rearing expectations and gender biases (Northouse, 2013). For these reasons, it is no surprise that women are rallying their support behind Hillary Clinton who just recently announced her candidacy for President of the United States. If she is wins, Hillary will be the first ever female President –reaching the topmost position of leadership in the country- having successfully navigated the labyrinth (Northouse, 2013)!
In the USA Today article, “Women Look to Hillary for leadership: Column”, author Carrie Lukas touches upon obstacles that still plague women in the workplace, suggesting that Hillary should them discuss honestly, rather than repeating the same old statistics commonly used today. According to Lukas, feminists have named April 14th, 2015 “Equal Pay Day” to commemorate the first time women in the U.S. have closed the previous year’s wage gap. While that seems promising, Lukas argues that the statistics fails to include many important factors into its calculations such as: hours worked, industry, education, etc. and suggests that a solution would be to educate women on education and career choices.
Women leadership theory found that women who understand the labyrinth, sidestep obstacles by becoming their own bosses (Northouse, 2013). As a matter of fact, women own 40% of privately owned businesses! However, organizations are changing their cultures to better support gender diversity in leadership. Now, organizations are becoming more flexible, supporting women in career development, networking and work-life (Northouse, 2013). These programs echo the sentiment Lukas states in her article that by educating women to make informed decisions about their careers, more and more may be able to also navigate the labyrinth and make it to the top.
Lukas argues that change shouldn’t just come from within the organization, but also within society itself. She states that all of women’s contributions should be respected –not just their earnings. Contributions fulfilling roles such as community service and family care are all equally as important as pay (Lukas, 2015). Women leadership theory finds that society is changing due to child rearing and domestic responsibilities becoming more equal between mothers and fathers (Northouse, 2013). This shift has permitted more women to seek top positions (Northouse, 2013).
Ultimately, it will take changing views both from an organizational and societal level to see real progress in terms of gender equality in leadership. While strives have been made, women continue to face obstacles, having to learn how to navigate the labyrinth in order to succeed. If organizations rid themselves of the “old-boy networks” (Lukas, 2015) and other discriminatory practices, and women are cultivated to career success, more and more women may make it to the top.
Lukas, C. (2015). Women look to Hillary for leadership: column. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/04/12/hillary-clinton-equal-pay-womens-rights-presidential-candidate-column/25596765/
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.