Working environments are dimensions in which the individual’s skills, talents and production capabilities are put into the test. The war-like situation manifested in corporate arenas continues to post a challenge to each and every individual. It is a legitimized jungle wherein only the strong remains and the weak perish. Thus, for every struggle that is addressed, this spells sweet victory for the triumphant warrior. It is for this aspect that Karsten described the workplace a source of one’s “sense of self, power and prestige (162).
” As the individual continue to climb the corporate ladder, his or her “sense of self, power and prestige (Karsten 162)” continue to increase. This is most especially true in scenarios wherein leadership roles are assumed and performed. However, a critical examination shows that holding power, garnering respect and expressing authority have exclusively remained in the hands of men. The opportunity to lead has been an exclusive right of males and women, despite of the strong campaign to uphold equality, are continuously pushed to the periphery.
Women leadership remains a critical issue in the corporate environment. Despite of the efforts to render equal opportunities to both men and women, the actions taken, remained futile. Women as leaders are still seen from a derogatory perspective. As Spade and Valentine described, work places are no less than “gendered institutions” that operate under “inequality regimes (341). ” Under this context, it can be argued that the so-called “inequality regimes” mentioned in this discussion, is no less than the hegemonic and oppressive patriarchal orientations that are highly manifested in various work spaces.
Drawing on Dahrendorf’s distribution of power and authority (Lemell & Noll, 52), it is evident that many working environments deprive women from having equal chances or access to positions that demand an exercise of power and control. Also, power legitimacy as for the case of women leaders are often questioned or blatantly ignored. While it is true that women have managed to acquire managerial positions, Ely et. al expressed that only 1 % of these females are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies or establishments (161). Likewise, Ely et.
al mentioned that in terms of governmental positions and functions, only a small percentage of women can be observed. The seemingly under representation and to a certain extent—total absence of women leaders in the corporate world is triggered by society’s patriarchal culture. The practices seen in the business world reflect the manipulative and discriminating orientation of the patriarchal system. Under this context, societal roles and functions are highly determined by gender. Men are seen as the stronger sex whereas women are the exact opposite.
Women are constantly confined into domestic roles. They are mothers and wives whose values and worth are best exemplified in the bedroom and kitchen. Thus, their entries into the workplace or business environments are often seen as a threat. In addition to that, this scenario highly contradicts the so-called “normative behaviors (Ridgeway 223)” of world. Leadership in business environments translates to performing firm decision, asserting authority and showing direct control, if necessary.
Needless to say, these traits or characteristics are often played or portrayed by men. On the other hand, the idea of being a mere “follower” is relegated to women. Therefore, in the event wherein a woman leader practices authority, utilizes power and make decisions, these scenario is immediately dismissed as a violation of the canonical norms not only of the workplace, but also of the overall social structure (Ridgeway 223). The problem with women executives or leaders is that their socially-constructed roles are mixed with their corporate or work-related functions.
The merit of their leadership skills and capabilities are based on how well they perform their overtly stereotyped duties and obligations. When women act like leaders, the patriarchal system immediately questions their efficiency via insisting the women’s highly biased and gender-based tasks (Ridgeway 223). As Ridgeway stressed, women leaders are initially seen as a woman, then a leader (223). Gender would always come first and leadership capabilities are only secondary. There are several ways in which women are prevented from acquiring leadership positions in the workplace.
The first one is illustrated by the “glass ceiling concept (Goethals & Burns 77). Under this context, women are blatantly deprived of acquiring leadership positions via unequal distribution of chances and opportunities (Goethals & Burns 77). This is despite of eliciting commendable work-related achievements and success. The glass ceiling acts as a barricade that prevents women from being hailed as managers and executives despite delivering good results and performances (Haslett, Geis & Carter 128).
In addition to that, it is also evident that women are placed into positions or departments in which they cannot possibly harness their leadership skills (Goethals, Sorenson & Burns 77). They are subjected into roles that do not engage into actual corporate management and decision making. Therefore, in the event in which women are recommended for promotions, their skills and experience readily lag behind. Or in such cases, a woman must shoulder the entire burden of exerting efforts and energy to prove themselves, but with no assurance that they will be selected.
But then again even if some women were able to secure their positions on the corporate hierarchy, Goethal, Sorenson and Burns shared that this is no less than a defense mechanism used to avoid accusations of gender discrimination and inequality (77). Aside from the glass ceiling, the persistence of the seemingly omnipotent “old boy network (Goethals, Sorenson & Burns 77)” is also instrumental in the under representation of women leaders. A critical examination of the old boy network clearly shows the strong attempt of men to protect their own interests (Sanchez et.
al 240). There is the intention to keep power in the hands of the few and eliminate new players. This basically explains the degree of favoritism in promotions. Men often receive high preference compared to women not because they are better or more productive. Instead, this is just a way to preserve the patriarchal rule. Since majority of senior executives are men, their power legitimacy is highly acknowledged and recognized. This kind of prestige is then used by males to control, manipulate and safeguard their interests.
Thus, to ensure that their power and authority shall remain, these executives are more likely to choose male protegees—individuals, who like them, present a common set of beliefs, ideologies and value systems. Lastly, the limited access of women to building social networks lessens their chances of being corporate leaders (Goethals, Sorenson & Burns 78). Goethals, Sorenson and Burns mentioned that “informal gatherings” is a way for women to connect with other individuals in the business organizations (78).
It is through these activities that women can further improve their social and communication skills—two of the most significant traits that leaders should acquire. However, these opportunities are hardly given to women. Other than obstructing women to create meaningful relationships and camaraderie, this scenario also inhibits females from having their own mentors and role models (Klenke 185). Mentors and role models serve as a support system. Through them, valuable knowledge and insights are shared and transmitted. Mentoring relationships help potential leaders devise sound decisions and appropriate solutions.
Unfortunately, this right is highly exclusive to men. The struggles and challenges faced by women leaders in the corporate system is yet another gender issue that should be readily addressed. Leadership roles should not be equated to gender-based functions. Equal rights and opportunities should be provided to both genders and should not be an exclusive privilege of men. It should be stressed and remembered that leadership efficiency is determined by skills and performances, never by gender. Works Cited Sanchez, Penny; Philip Hucles; Janis Sanchez-Hucles and Sanjay Mehta.
“Increasing Diverse Women Leadership in Corporate America: Climbing Concrete Walls and Shattering Glass Ceilings. ” Women and Leadership Transforming Visions and Diverse Voices Eds. Jean Lau Chin; Bernice Lott; Joy Rice and Janis Sanchez-Hucles. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2007 Ely, Robin; Erica Foldy; Maureen Scully and The Center for Gender in Organizations Simmons School of Management. Reader in Gender, Work and Organization. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2003 Goethal, George; Georgia Sorenson and James MacGregor Burns. Encyclopedia of Leadership. California: Sage Publications Inc, 2004
Haslett, Beth; Florence Geis and Mae Carter. The Organizational Woman. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1992 Karsten, Margaret. Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the Workplace. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 Klenke, Karin. Women Leadership. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1996 Lemell, Yannick and Heinz-Herbert Noll. Changing Structures of Inequality: A Comparative Perspective. Canada: Mc-Gill Queen’s University Press, 2002 Ridgeway, Cecilia. Gender Interaction and Inequality. New York: Springer –Verlag New York Inc. , 1992 Spade, Joan and Catherine Valentine. The Ka