The Obstacles Women Face When it Comes to Leadership

The Obstacles Women Face When it Comes to Leadership

As far as how far women have come in terms of assuming leadership roles in everything from politics to finance to business and industry, there is still a relatively wide gap in public perception. Whereas roughly seventy percent of women concur that there aren't enough women in high profile leadership roles particularly in political office, only half of the men agree. And along those same lines, women also believe that this arises in part from the fact that women are compelled to do more to prove themselves, while the men don't seem to see this same disparity.

Sixty percent of women will point to discrimination in the political and business arenas as far as what prevents more women from getting those top spots, a much smaller percentage of men recognize that discrimination of this kind exists. We can also look at this type of gender gap perspective as far as the political parties themselves. Democrats are more apt to point to gender disparity in leadership roles. Republicans less so according to recent surveys. Within the parties themselves (men versus women/), there's also often a fairly wide divide between views on women's roles.

Republicans/Democrats and the gender gap when talking about women in leadership

By a little more than 20%, Republican women will say that there is a dearth of women in critical leadership roles versus their male counterparts. They will also be the first to point out that when it comes to women in leadership business roles this same inequality exists. Stats don't lie; in the US today there are approximately 50% of men occupying top business spots and only 29% of women.

Republican women also point to uneven expectations as a reason for the percentage mismatch. 65% of republican women have said that a woman is forced to do more to get into the same roles whereas the men, only 28% concur with this assessment.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, there is a bit more evenness in terms of men's and women's points of view on this issue. Majorities of both agree that there are too few women in leadership roles in both politics and business. One of the topics on which there is more divergence is whether or not enough women are being encouraged from a young age to be leaders: 63% of women say no, they are not, while only 40% of Democratic men concur.

Both men and women agree on who has the easier path to a leadership role

Just over 2/3 of Americans will agree that a man has a much easier path to get elected to a political office than a woman. Only a mere 5% have argued that a woman has an easier path. As far as the business world and those coveted executive positions, the views are the same. Men have an easier journey to the top.

There is somewhat of a discrepancy in how many (from a percentage standpoint/) agree on this. Whereas seventy-five percent of women take this position, only 60 percent of men do. And again, turning to Democrats versus Republicans on this issue, Democrats are pretty much united here. Republicans, on the other hand, present a gender gap: two-thirds of women say that it's easier for a man to get to a leadership role and only 45% of the men will say the same thing within the Republican party.

Many believe women have to do more and work harder for the same position

Roughly sixty percent of Americans say that the reason more men occupy leadership roles in business and politics is that women are often asked to do more in order just to prove themselves. Nearly fifty percent concur that the top companies are simply not ready to hire women executives and similarly, those top political roles are out of reach for women.

The reason for this varies according to many surveyed. But a staggering seventy percent of women do in fact point to a need for women to consistently prove themselves, while this isn't necessarily the case for their male counterparts. And thus fewer women are occupying critical leadership roles in several industries and fields.

Discrimination based on gender is another hot topic as far as women not being promoted to those leadership positions. Only about a third of men will argue that discrimination is at play. Men are consequently more likely to say that women just aren't as interested in assuming leadership positions.

Most agree that women and men are equally capable of leading

While there is a noted gender gap in leadership roles, most will still contend that women and men are equally capable of performing leadership roles and associated responsibilities. More specifically focusing on business and industry, there is a gender gap when it comes to the types of companies that people deem women capable of running. Three in ten Americans agree that women would do a better job heading a retail company. People are also twice as likely to ascribe to a woman the ability to run a hospital over her male counterpart. Men, according to those surveyed, tend to have the edge as far as sports, industry, and construction to name a few.

Politically speaking, gender doesn't seem to have all that much of an impact when it comes to handling policy issues. From immigration to gun control, there's little difference in terms of the public's perception of who would handle these topics more effectively. The areas in which there is a divergence are social issues and security issues, with men topping the list on security and defense and most seeing women as better equipped to deal with social issues such as education.

The traits most helpful to men and women in leadership positions

The actual traits that constitute an effective leader also represent something of a gender gap. Most say that for men, they need to be assertive and confident. Seventy percent believe this to be true. With women, however, only about fifty percent believe that being assertive would help her to attain a leadership role. A quarter of respondents believe that being assertive and confident could hurt a woman's chances. Another attribute some found that could contribute to a woman advancing in her career was being attractive. Very few found this to be an important trait for men. The ability to show emotion can go either way. Over fifty percent say emotionality hurts women, while 17% say that it could help them. On the men's side, the patterns are quite similar.

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