AMHVoices: Do women have the ability to lead?

Ever since Zimbabwean independence, more women have been absorbed into formal employment and some have even assumed public office. However women in leadership positions remain low 37 years on,despite that the government signed and ratified regional and international conventions aimed at the gradual re-balancing of gender disparities and promotion of gender equality.

A Women and Men Report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency stated that women constitute 52% of the total population while men are 48% but unfortunately this does not translate into more women in leadership positions. A study by Zimbabwe Gender Commission titled Measuring Differences on Board of Directors in 2015 established that out of 406 directors in the private sector, 10% were women and out of 64 companies on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchanges female CEOs constituted only 4, 68%.

The UN statistics reiterate that worldwide only 22.8% women are in leadership positions. According to the UK Guardian in the business world, women currently hold only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions.
What this entails is that leadership and decision-making across the world has remained male dominated in the 21st century. So does this mean women do not have the abilities to lead?

In the corporate world there is an extremely consistent pattern where by women climb up the corporate ladder and then they vanish in the upper echelons. According to the Business Insider, a leadership consultancy; the number of women shrinks in the higher levels of the organization despite the fact that in the lower levels there might be women in leadership positions.

This happens because of the nature of workplaces which are a microcosm view of a patriarchal society which views women as vulnerable and fragile human beings who make emotional decisions. This strong bias depicts men as the stronger sex which is justified and entitled to assume leadership positions because they are perceived to make better masculine decisions.

Married women are also restricted from rising the organizational ladder by societal norms and cultural values which inhibit them from participating in informal networks through connecting with other men outside the sphere of work. Due to this men use their old boys’ networks to muscle their way to the top shielding women away.

One more circumventing factor is that women double up professional and domestic roles which constrains them from committing to work beyond normal working hours. Male chauvinism is another enigma that women battle in organizations. Male subordinates are hostile to female superiors, they view them as sex objects and they subject them to various forms of sexual harassment.

These are some of the factors which hamper the career advancement of women to top leadership positions. However globally and locally the tide is is changing and more women are being elevated into leadership roles.
The IMF, General Motors, IBM and Nicoz Diamond are run by women. In Silicon Valley, the New York Times reports that recruiters have been wooing women in the sector to boost their diversity figures. This has also been necessitated by findings in research by organizations like McKinsey which articulated that gender diverse organizations make 15% more profit than those that are not.

However, enacting women in leadership positions through positive discrimination has been found to have its fair share of challenges. When Norway introduced quotas for the number of women on company boards in 2006, not every woman benefitted but small groups of well-known women profited through their networks and they became known as the golden skirts. The critical mass of women expected to rise did not but only a token of figureheads made it to the top.
Despite this, do women have what it takes to lead?

Women are by nurture highly collaborative multi-taskers who can balance demands of work. In families they are the glue that keeps the family fabric intact, it is through their family leadership that traditions, values and family legacies are upheld. They secure the foundational roots of families, and according to the 2015 Fortune Magazine extensive research reveals that women are empathetic than men as they can sense growing tensions that can lead to inefficiencies and potential problems.

Generally it is because of women that families are well organized, balanced and full of love. To add on women possess nurturing competencies that involve developing others and building relationships. These are qualities that women can bring into the workplace.

Regardless of such makings, women who make it in the corporate world rely on deploying strategies such as assertiveness, balancing their professional and domestic roles, advancing their credentials and working harder than men in order to break through the glass ceiling and overcome barriers to excel to the top.

Proponents for women in leadership state that elevation of women should commence in the family set up. Educational and financial support should be equal between the girl and boy child, families should cease the culture of discriminating the girl child. That way more women will be qualified enough to take up leadership roles in all sectors.

On the organisational level, it takes the determination of courage of leaders to support the upward trajectory of women and to build gender-balanced organizations where the unique qualities and abilities of women are appreciated.

Freemen Pasurai writes in his personal capacity. He is passionate about people management. He is available on email freemenpasurai01@gmail.com and on Twitter @freeman_pasurai

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11 Comments

  1. I thought promotion should always be based on merit and not on whether someone is a woman or otherwise. There are horrifying examples in the corporate world today of pushing up women in order to fulfill the gender requirement of thrusting ladies to the top.

  2. Janana wa Bikaz

    After all is said and done i am of the opinion that women should earn the leadership positions that they yearn for instead of getting top positions for a mere reason that they are women.When we talk of gender equality i thought it denotes that everyone has an equal opportunity to show their capability in every sphere of life despite their gender.So why the call for giving special preference to the fairer sex?If they have got what it takes to rise they should have the stamina of bringing to an end the male domination in higher positions.The fact they fail to break this men domination jinx point to the fact that they cannot fight nature and come out victors,which is God’s world order.

  3. sekuru Madzibwa

    the proportion on its own should make us understand…how many women are they to one man and hence you need much of them…if one man is equal to seven women ..then it is true that one women cant lead instea or in place of one man seven of them are required by nature to take that task..you ma like or dislike this but the truth wont change

  4. sekuru Madzibwa

    the proportion on its own should make us understand…how many women are they to one man and hence you need much of them…if one man is equal to seven women ..then it is true that one women cant lead instea or in place of one man seven of them are required by nature to take that task..you ma like or dislike this but the truth wont change

  5. Women can lead if only they concentrated on the job and stopped thinking every man wants to do them down.Thus they spend time working out how to fight next imagined or fictitious disrespectful act that the next man is planning.

  6. Women trying to eye for top leadership positions are usually feminists. In as much as we may want to address gender disparities, men will always be on the top come what may

  7. Well if the truth be told women are best when doing a supportive job which is not a bad thing after all

  8. Women can lead only if they are also given a chance to show their capabilities and only if their rights are set to satisfaction and not to some favors.Because, it is those men who are on the upper class who make women feel inferior in the leading as they are said to be dominant.They are appreciated to be good servants when they let men take a lead in everything.

  9. Unfortunately there many patriarchal systems and structures that treat women as 2nd class citizens only answerable to men. A society where girls and women have to look up at their brothers and nephews as fathers but females are treated as children. There are many women young and old with potential to do better than men up there but these are not given the chance. Our society is strong in forcing girls and women in the domestic sphere than public, the spaces that create opportunities and resources that can help elevate women by merit are restricted and limited to men. There is so much discrimination that, women who rise in either the cooperate or political ladder are labelled. There is language the chauvinists continue to create to ensure women remain low on the leadership ladder.When boys are being taught to repair cars and fix things, girls are taught to wash , cook and clean. Women still go back home after work if they have formal employment to do these things while most men drink beer, watch TV, play snooker or continue work in their offices. So if we are to see women rise, there is need for practical implementation of the laws that promote women and restructuring of our societal structures. Work towards changing of oppressive attitudes held by chauvinists. Equality should begins from the home and translates to cooperate and political organisations. If you teach your son that he is the father of the household and your daughter that she is his child, your son will always see her as merely for support and a child. But if you train them equal and task them work equally, educate them equally, they can always excel in chosen fields without inferiority complex or superiority complex taking over.
    So many women can lead and even rescue Zimbabwe that has been falling at the hands of men, only if those who say women can’t can start seeing and saying that women can. Many homes are being raised by women and they are doing better, they can do far more in top positions.
    This can only work if we all acknowledge the structural inequalities created by history from ownership of resources to occupation of work positions, to naming and assumption of identity.
    Yes the laws are there now, but these are not correcting the inequalities of the past, the laws are giving financial resources, material resources or even homes to women and they are yet to be fully implemented. Expecting women to occupy many key leadership positions now is like expecting person A who begins a race 30 years after person B to win. The achievements women have made so far in leadership are great considering our history and environment. Yes THEY ARE NOT ENOUGH AND WOMEN WILL SOLDIER ON, BUT Zimbabwe must begin to walk implementation, sadly many key positions that should ensure implementation of the many laws and systems are run by men….

  10. aaaaa kana vakadzi havakwanisi,ngavazorore havo,ngavazive kuzvara vana chete mudzimba umo

  11. How can women make up 52% of the population when statistically children are the majority in this country more of those children are male since more boys tend to be born. This wishful thinking doesn’t take us anywhere. Women can lead if they want but only on merit, the same with men.

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