Background on Women & Leadership In the U.S.

Background on
Women & Leadership
In the U.S.
St. Catherine University Global Women’s Leadership
Convening: Women in Public Life
July 13-20, 2011
Women Rapidly Entered Leadership
1960’s: First tracking of women in leadership
roles in the U.S.
1970’s: Women hold 17% of U.S. professional
and managerial positions
2010: Women represent 50% of all professional
and managerial positions and small business
owners in the U.S.
However, the numbers drop significantly
at the highest levels of leadership:
• Only 15.7% of corporate officers are women in the
• Only 8 women CEOs in the Fortune 500
• Tracking women in top leadership only began in
An inadequate number of women
in the “pipeline” is no longer seen
as the cause of these low numbers.
If not this, what is the cause?
What about women’s leadership
• In a study comparing men and women’s leadership
style, women score higher in transformational
• Which produces the most positive leadership outcomes
• And results in advancement for men,
• Yet, it is less likely to result in career advancement for
Women leaders cite:
• They have to outperform men to get the same rewards
• They do not receive comparable salaries
• They do not perceive that, all things being equal, a women
will be promoted over a man
• They cite barriers to advancement that include exclusion
from formal networks, stereotyping and lack of
accountability by leaders to promote women
• Only 30% believe they have the same opportunities as men
• 41% of current pay gap between men and women is
What else is contributing?
• Women’s continued primary responsibility for
household and child rearing place added burdens that
contribute to stress and burn-out.
• Women feel isolated in their work as leaders.
• Many women leaders do not identify themselves as
leaders regardless of their many accomplishments.
• Women have few opportunities to collectively
explore assumptions about leadership and gender.
The “Double Bind” for women
• Women are caught in gender defined images of leadership:
• They become “one of the boys” and risk violating gender
expectations for women.
• They use transformational leadership approaches consistent
with gender norms for women and do not get seen as leaders.
• They think their lack of recognition is due to their own
performance; they work to outperform everyone else, and
many experience burn-out as a result.
How Three Waves of Feminism
Have Impacted Women’s
Three Waves of Feminism
Women’s Suffrage
Women have the same capability
to lead as men; women need
access to the same leadership
opportunities as men.
Women’s Voice
Women lead differently than
men and women’s leadership
style needs to be recognized as
effective leadership.
Women’s Differentiation
Women are different from each other
and our differences are as important
as the fact that we are women;
women leaders need to be treated as
All three waves continue to impact
women in leadership
And there is an emerging fourth wave…
Fourth Wave
Women ‘s Interconnectedness
Women (and men) recognize ourselves as
multi-dimensional, support our individual
differences, our equality, and our
Interdependence, while focusing our efforts,
together, on the wider global issues we face.

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