It’s a wonderful time to be a woman in the United States of America. Barriers that once blocked women’s eligibility for leadership roles are being questioned, put on trial, and dismantled daily. Women and those who support them are using their voices and skills to seek greater equality. To illustrate one prime example, look no further than Washington D.C. Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female VP on January 20, 2021, just about 100 years after women earned the right to vote. In that moment, and in so many moments of achievement that built her staircase to get there, Harris proved that not just a woman, but a woman from a multi-racial (Black and South Asian) background, can climb to the highest ranks of leadership.
Though women are equally capable of earning and excelling in leadership roles, a legacy of imbalance in the workplace is slowly being corrected. You might have heard the truism, “Change starts at the top.” When forecasting business trends, it can be helpful to examine the nation’s most powerful companies. As of 2020, Fortune 500 reported that there were 37 women CEOs in control. That number amounts to only 7.4% of CEOs, yet demonstrates an impressive increase from just two female Fortune 500 leaders in 2000. Maybe those gender-diverse Fortune 500 companies got wise to the proven business benefits. According to a 2019 S&P Global study, firms with female CEOs and CFOs result in excess profits (in the sum of trillions of dollars) and increased stock price performance over the market average. Higher gender diversity amongst a company’s board of directors is also associated with profit increases.
Education may play a role in why women are getting hired for jobs previously reserved for men. The Pew Research Center showed that by 2019, women had matched men on the number of workers in the labor force with a bachelor’s degree (29.5 million women to 29.3 million men). However, having a bachelor’s degree for men puts his median earnings at $74,900, while for college-educated women, that median is $51,600. There is still much work to be done to improve the gender wage gap.
Why Women are Essential in Leadership
The good news is, since women are now as well or more educated than men in the workforce, little can stand in the way of their rise to leadership positions. More organizations are now looking to women to provide valuable leadership qualities related to communication, which is an essential component of successful business practice. Communication is just one soft skill that bolsters a professional’s “emotional intelligence.” Other components of emotional intelligence include critical thinking, a positive work ethic, and strength in working with others.
Emotional intelligence ultimately leads to better decision-making, which is a key skill for leaders. The steps of analysis, planning, and then acting amount to a tactical, emotionally intelligent approach that produces thoughtful results. In our society, girls consistently receive training from adults that empathy is the essence of being female. Empathy helps strengthen communication skills in new ways. Empathy also helps women consider multiple perspectives and come up with creative solutions for businesses.
In Dr. Shawn Andrews’ book, The Power of Perception, the author explains that fewer women are in leadership not because of a lack of skills, but because of societal perceptions of leaders. Our society trains men to be assertive, self-confident, decisive, and competitive. Historically, these are also qualities that have been associated with leadership, creating a de-facto exclusion of women from leading roles. It has been assumed that women are just not “leadership material,” which many now know is not the case. Women seeking leadership positions must continue to break down these inaccurate notions. America’s perspective on gender, in general, is experiencing a revolution, and we have a new responsibility to socialize new generations with fewer gender assumptions.
Providing An Avenue for Women in Leadership
The truth is, society still accepts that women spend more time on childcare than their male counterparts, which makes it more challenging to excel in the workplace. According to a McKinsey study, since the pandemic, in a two-parent household where both parents work, mothers are twice as likely to spend five or more hours a day on chores. That amounts to a part-time job! Not surprisingly, many women in leadership get there because they’ve found avenues for education and career advancement that allow for flexibility without sacrificing quality.
Goodwin University’s Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) is a flexible program that is offered entirely online, or in a hybrid format, and can be completed in as few as 20 months while studying part-time. At Goodwin, we understand that managing a family, a job, and other obligations are just as much a priority to you as your long-term career plans. We’re so proud to offer fantastic leadership training and a graduate education that is attainable to men and women, no matter what else they might be balancing in life. Today, women make up about 80 percent of our study body—and we’re honored to be helping the next generation of female leaders into careers they love.
For more information about Goodwin University’s MSOL degree program and how we can support your leadership journey, visit us online or call an admissions representative at 800-889-3282, today!
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.