The Same Old Story: Women’s Political Leadership

A U.S. study from the Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends shows that while women are consistently rated higher on most leadership traits, that overall only 6% of respondents felt that women were better leaders than men, while 21% felt than men were better leaders than women.  The article suggests that there might be intervening issues, such as work-life family balance, women’s attitudes toward politics that are reducing women’s participation in political life.

Leadership researchers have developed a concept know as Implicit Leadership Theories (ILT). They hold that most followers have an un-articulated concept of who or what a leader should be. These factors include sensitivity, intelligence, dedication, dynamism, masculinity and tyranny. (Epitropaki and Martin, 2004).  Both masculinity and tyranny are actually “anti-prototypes” for leadership. Yet for some reason, we still don’t see women breaking the glass ceiling in either politics or the workplace.

So is it really our perceptions of women that are holding us back?  Or are there structural and behavioural barriers that keep women from taking leadership roles within our society. As men take on more domestic duties, are we going to see changes? Now 22% of American households report that the wife earns more than the husband. Maybe it’s only a matter of time.


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