There are many articles, researches, and studies which discuss and compare between women and men at the workplace – where when a comparison takes place there is prejudice against both women and men undermining the power of women and overestimating the power of men. It is a fact that for a long time, women did not have their due at workplaces – being primarily dominated by men – but it is with the change of generations, way of thinking, and appreciating the value of women, workplaces around the world did change and women became in great leadership positions.

A recent study found that 60% of top corporations in the US have at least two women on their executive committees, and eight corporations – including IBM, Pepsi Corporation and General Motors – have women CEOs. Overall, however, the results were less encouraging. Men hold 83% of the executive committee positions within top US companies, leaving 11% of women in staff roles and 6% in line roles.

In Europe’s top 100 companies, the situation for women was even less promising. Men hold 89% of executive committee jobs; women hold 6% of staff roles and 5% are in line roles. The gender balance was even worse in Asia, where men hold 96% of senior roles, leaving 3% of women in staff roles and 1% in line roles. In these three regions combined, women hold only 11% of the 3,000 executive committee spots in the 300 companies surveyed.

These statistics reveal that the concept of women leaders is very appealing, but they suggest that women are still “against the ropes” when it comes to having leadership positions at the work place – it is more and more a marketing concept utilized by companies to just promote gender equality for them to say “we have women leaders” without giving that statement much of a though or sincere consideration.


The Different Considerations of Women in Leadership:

It is when the concept changes from being for marketing purposes to being a true concept of accepting that there are women who can overcome men in the workplace as leaders – a change will occur. Few women ask, or lobby for power. Managers uniformly interpret this tendency as a lack of ambition, but most women assume a manager will notice when they perform well and promote them accordingly.

There is an argument which suggests that men and women’s career lifecycles are often different. Managers tend to identify high-potential leaders when candidates are aged 30-35. Yet this policy unwittingly eliminates women from the talent pipeline because many have children around this age. In their 40s, when many women refocus on their careers, it is often too late.

It’s a Two-way Road:

Another point of view suggests that it is a two way road, where women don’t pursue leadership positions in their companies as it is male dominated (and thus, don’t invest the power in that aspiration), and the second road is that men leaders feel that women in their companies are not investing as much power to be leaders – and thus don’t consider this option.

I recently watched the movie “Against the Ropes” – it is a great story of Meg Ryan who was a reporter then changed careers to be a boxing manager representing the boxer Omar Epps, being truly against the ropes in a world full of men – but was able to succeed, changing the underlining concept that women can’t make it in the men’s world. Meg Ryan did not accept the fact that she can be a second to the main trainer/coach, that she can do a better job – which she did.

Watch the trailer @ Against the Ropes

The main problem is not in the women or the men, but the culture and mentality which mainly differentiates between women and men based on capabilities – it is the business models which crafts leadership around men and ask women to prove them to be promoted to those leadership positions.

We need a new model for leadership that eliminates the depressing syndrome of ‘the second’ and base capabilities on genders.


Where to find Dr. Islam Gouda,