Certain researchers and institutions such as National Institute of Health (NIH) published some factors that are responsible for the underrepresentation of women in senior positions. Moreover, another study was conducted by University Committee on the Status of Women (UCSOW) at The Johns Hopkins University revealed that women are underrepresented even the senior universities positions across the institution due to the various factors discussed below.
Factors Responsible for Under Representation of Women in Senior Position
The various factors found responsible for underrepresentation of the women in the senior leadership positions include:
- Paths to senior leadership positions are very slow or more often blocked for women
According to a research by the University Committee on the Status of Women (UCSOW) at The Johns Hopkins University on various fortune companies, there was some evidence that paths of leadership roles do not include women being employed based on the convectional based pattern of the roles and jobs. The study revealed that senior administrative positions in various companies are defined by hierarchies and therefore women find it difficult progressively follow the ranks starting from junior employee to a managerial position and then to chief executive ranks. Women have a lot of academic, family and social factors that hinder them from rising on the rank sequentially.
Moreover, the research participants found out that women are not regularly employed in senior administrative ranks and therefore there is a challenge given that men occupy the largest number of these positions. Various companies are driven by the thought that women can do better if under institutions and therefore should be given lower positions. Thus, this definitely leads to women end up being underrepresented. Furthermore, three reasons were found to cause women fail to be elected in senior managerial positions. First, senior leadership positions are discipline specific based positions and therefore electing a man to hold them instead of women may add credibility on most instances to the institutions because men are flexible. Secondly, the senior positions were requiring a high level of developing skills and other experience credits in administration matters and therefore lead to women being underrepresented. This significantly leads to the situation when most of the women get disqualified on the basis that they do not have the right qualifications for the senior positions.
Third, being in a senior managerial position offer some dramatic leadership and administrative based visibility both externally and internally found to discourage a lot of women aspiring to climb on the senior managerial positions. Moreover, the women ability to get the senior positions paths were hindered by the presence of women not having the necessary careers requirements that are necessary in the process of ensuring that they acquire the senior positions in these fortune companies at ease.
- Leadership based senior positions, currently defined or implemented and enacted, is not attractive to women and possibly to a large number of men
Researchers believe that the academic leaders holding senior positions should be available to work any time. The main reasons for this are that leadership roles in most of the companies are purely under resourced and hence do not promote women on based senior leadership positions. In order to compensate for the under resourcing in senior positions, the senior staffs are encouraged to make occasions and an effort of making some adequate based veritable 24/7 based professional role of delivering duties. In the studies, several senior women were interviewed, and it was observed that they faced a challenge to balance the domestic chores and that of senior positions. They are found to opt on ignoring the senior positions and take lower ranked positions in order to meet their spouse and family demands.
Most of them classed that they would like to be senior positions holders, but they do not apply to avoid family conflicts. In the process, those holding senior positions were found to be single or even divorced. They claimed that they could not do without jobs and therefore keeping of their husbands meant less domestic interruptions that can overhaul successful holding of these senior positions. They are expected by their family members to meet home based duties and at the same time their offices. Such expectations end up making them less attractive to senior positions and let men go for them hence underrepresentation. In fact, the studies found that instances where the women and men are in full time jobs, there are higher possibilities of having the woman quit to meet domestic chores. Husband may find the woman not meeting all the domestic chores due to work load in the offices.
In 2002, Provost Knapp from the Johns Hopkins University conducted a study from 27 women, where 8 of them have a rank of Department Chair, dean and provost suggested that the environment at which women are subjected by the husbands. In the process, the researcher found that the society need some significant transformations of leadership based styles regarding a woman and the role she can play in society if given an opportunity to work. It is the high time to realize that most of the women have vast multidisciplinary based problem solving skills that can enhance innovation in the country and therefore take these fortune companies in next higher level. Moreover, women have other convincing leadership skills that are believed to be few in most men holding senior managerial positions.
- Women are more often excluded from the informal based networks that are based on intellectual leadership
Formal based networks are found to exercise an instrumental role in the process of preparing young ladies for the senior positions. In most cases, it has been found through interaction that ladies share various ideas and hence help looking at some of the challenges found to impact their leadership based positions. It is argued that mentoring, networking and critical based reflective dialogue help in the process of shaping leadership skills. The processes need a lot of time which most women do not have compared to their male counterparts. The ladies end up missing these noble ideas that can aid in the process of setting a strong senior position bench mark.
Due to this, most women are found to miss the required senior position requirements in the market and hence not awarded those positions. This has led to most of them being underrepresented in most of these senior positions. Though, gender biasness have been found to promote the problem, most of the members in senior positions are men and hence other men end up creating good rapport with their counter parts. In the process, most of the interviews are conducted by men and hence favor other men in holding the senior positions. Only women who end up being selected are highly exceptional and therefore hold the offices for a short period of time. In order to promote women in holding the senior positions, the researcher found out that most of the participants and especially senior positioned women pleaded for more informal networks to young women. For this reason, it will lead to more mentorship and guidance on leadership and therefore improve women’s desire for higher positions.
- Women already in leadership roles are not as well recognized or appropriately rewarded within their institutions
Several studies have found that the root cause of most women having under represented fully in the senior positions have significantly been agitated by the failure of most institutions to recognize women and hence not trust them with senior positions. There are senseless thoughts in the society that states women are inferior to men and therefore they should be led and not to lead. Moreover, they are not respected by other male staffs and hence not allowed to hold senior positions. Those who make an effort to rise over the ranks and become senior positions holders do so under struggle or through some transformative measures that are highly fixed in few organization. The male counterparts are found to think that women do not have adequate leadership skills and therefore no senior position based responsibilities should be bestowed on them (Jager 2011).
However, the study revealed that the few ladies found to hold senior positions in the fortune companies end up being nationally and internationally recognized as great leaders in the society. They are termed as expertise and great performers just like their men counterparts. However, the institutions based managements are found to fail in recognizing their efforts. The ladies perform little encouragement and limited resources. Thus, they see no need to inherit senior leadership positions because the already existing senior women faced a lot of challenges in these senior positions. They say that time and efforts of the women holding senior positions were not recognized, and there is no need to devote themselves on matters that will not add value to their life, societies and institutions at large. This has definitely triggered the underrepresentation of women in the senior positions. It is therefore recommended that significant programs on leadership and mentorship should be advanced on young women in order to promote women based leadership roles and especially in senior positions.
- Traditional division of labor separating the responsibilities of men and women in the society
Some of gender based stereotypes in society influence the level at which women and men are going to hold senior positions. There are perceptions within our societies that define women as tools that should be left home. However, 45 percent of all European Union labor force is female. From the various statistics carried out in EU labor force, the women category is found to contribute significantly in development if given chances to hold senior positions. Therefore, some societies should avoid that mindset depicting a woman as a tool to raise the family and a caretaker.
According to a study carried out by Eurochambres in six European Union member states, over 90 percent of all women interviewed testified that men are occupying better senior position than them. They blamed discrimination in offices and interviews, cultural factors and lack of professional careers for being underrepresented. Moreover, they believed that if given some chances they can adequately lead to exemplary performance. In addition to that, around 80 percent of the respondents indicated that motherhood contributes to most of the ladies fail in meeting their senior positions dreams. They blame the society found to impeach child caring and care taking responsibilities. Any woman found by the society to hold a senior position and not delivering household chores to the fullest is termed as failure compared to their male counterparts said to be excused that they have ladies to take care of their children.
- Gender based stereotypes on perceptions that men are better in business and good leaders than women
There are numerous pre conception thoughts terming men to be greater leaders than women in our societies. This now leads to most of the senior positions in great institutions bestowed on men and not women. Women are pigeonholed in certain occupational sectors and roles of employment and especially those found to exclude women in senior management positions. The Eurochambres research study stated that over two third of the women interviewed had already heard from the society claims on males being senior to female in businesses. The implication of this situation has clearly indicated that women are given few senior positions compared to their male counterparts hence under representations of women.
- Lack of relevant senior management experiences
Several studies were conducted to establish any relationship between senior positions held by women and relevant experiences for the jobs. In a study conducted by Catalyst and the Conference Board Europe which involved over 500 senior women from different corporations and professional firms across the whole Europe, it was found that most of the ladies lack relevant experiences for the senior positions. Therefore, they are found to opt for the lower positions and leave the big one for the men (Werhane 2007). The women lack the necessary experience due to senseless male manifestation that single out ladies for the senior positions. Thus, ladies are awarded the lower ranked positions and are not promoted to the senior positions. They are even sexually harassed and molested by males who believe that women do not have room for senior positions. Secondly, women are inferior in thoughts and therefore there are possibilities that women cannot offer any valid idea to the senior management staff meeting aimed at building the company and the entire society at large. In the process, the researcher suggested that a clear understanding of how male counterparts tries to counter down their female mates must be addressed with a lot of care if we believe in transforming the societies and an advocate of gender equality (Fisher 2010). In most cases, ladies should be awarded these senior positions in order to develop the necessary skills capable to yield relevant managerial based experiences. It is the high time for companies to extend some research work in this problem and facilitate the promotion of all those ladies with necessary skills for holding senior positions. This is the pure cure for women underrepresentation.
- Few senior women role models in our societies
According to a survey conducted by the European Network of Women in Decision-making in Politics and Economy, most of the young women do not have senior women role models in their regions to emulate. They grow in an environment where they do not meet people to advise or show them where to pursue in order to garner the necessary senior management skills. According to a meeting held by the institution in 2009, the society should recognize the need to have role models. Role models are found to promote changes in young generations by leading and showing them that everything is possible.
In most cases, the successful role models are found to highlight matters to the young women, provide a progress based actions and intervene by providing all necessary recommendations on how to go higher. Moreover, the role models are found to promote gender equity because they provide necessary advices to the society on the way forward. In most cases, the role models operate in a wide range of society based spectrums such as schools, political parties, on executive based director’s external networks and companies. It is evident that in most occasions, they are visible and highly emotionally based active in guiding young women. However, societies are yearning to have role models and therefore this has led to young women remain underrepresented in senior based positions.
- Reluctance of women to apply for senior positions
Some positions such as chief executive officer post demand extensive time frames and if some women are under motherhood, there are higher chances that they will opt to remain lower positions. Other women are found to be fearful and unwilling to hold senior positions even if appointed for. This means underrepresentation of women in companies may continue to exist. A survey conducted by Women Enterprise Agency and the FTSE 100 cross Company Mentoring in 2003 found that a large percentage of Finland ladies were not ready to sacrifice their families for senior positions. They are unwilling to be awarded senior posts because this meant more time for the company welfare than family.
For this reason, these organizations decided to make a difference by mentoring the young women in society. The study went further to establish on whether few women held senior positions in the country. The women who held such positions were manly single or divorced ladies and have opted to make an effort in cutting across the cultural chains to senior positions (Wippermann 2010). Currently, the organizations attend several institutions such as schools, hospitals and colleges in order to meet the young women who are later mentored and provided with all prerequisite skills for senior leadership positions. The organization identified that women if given an opportunity can do very well and therefore it was the high time for the young women to be tapped and provided with all skills that can make a difference in their live and to the races for senior positions.
How Can the Situation be Improved?
The society, companies and other human resource professionals have already taken some measures to improve the situation especially at the work place by ensuring that there are women to hold more senior positions in the future. Moreover, society is keen to educate the girl child and provide leave arrangements on an equal basis for both male and female. This is aimed at breaking the stereotype found to indicate that early stage child care is solely a woman’s responsibility. However, the most essential initiative to eliminate underrepresentation of women in a senior position will definitely arise. The people making internal management decisions on recruitment, career progression and selection of peers and successors of senior management staffs must adequately revise the company recruitment policies.
In 2007, a study was conducted on what companies are doing to reduce women underrepresentation in senior position. As a result, several recommendations based steps were made where by some of them include the following.
The first step is to be aware of the current women status situation within the company by introducing continuous monitoring of all human resource matters based on gender perspective. A clear understanding of the current women status may help the companies observe that women do perform well in lower positions and therefore end up being promoted to senior positions. It is a thought that policies in most of the companies encourage women underrepresentation through gender inequality. If the recruitment department are going to identify the gaps found to haunt the women in yean for the senior position, then gender perspectives will be addressed. Inevitably, women will end up being offered senior positions just like men and hence promote spontaneous development of the organization (Mathews 2011).
Moreover, the human resource criteria used in selecting senior position staff must be screened and monitored to see what they followed to meet and select the right candidates. It has been found that if the department is dominated by men, there is a like hood to have a male senior staff selected instead of a female. In order to solve such problem, the recruitment panel should also embrace gender equality and high level of recruitment professionalism. The women and men should not be given any preferences but shortlisted based on performance and merits. However, on some occasion, it may deem necessary to meet gender rule hence apply preference to integrate women in senior positions (Charles & Davies 2010).
Secondly, the companies are argued to implement policies that facilitate a decent work life balance that allow all women and men to actively engage in family life without sacrificing some of their career based development. Throughout the essay, we have found that certain domestic responsibilities tie women from participating in career development activities. Some of the matters relate to child care, household chores such as washing and cooking for the husband, etc. Now, in order for women and men to adequately compete for the senior positions, companies need to implement some work force policies that allow both men and women enjoy an equal environment of career growth.
The policies should clearly define some of the privilege for ladies who are taking care of their child. Furthermore, some of the policies found to have promoted women representation in a senior position had left days extended to both male and female in companies. This is made to ensure that women and men are equal, they have identical family responsibilities and therefore this should even apply in the selection process for the senior position where they should be awarded an equal opportunity.
Third, initiative is to cover and support all the necessary career paths found to be currently lacking for many women. It has been found that one of the greatest challenges for women to rise on the ladder for a senior position is lack of wide varied career positions. In order to meet this recommendation and reap some benefits, all organizations and companies are argued to embrace networking and mentoring of women. The mentoring and coaching process can be conducted by the companies hired professionals or even some invited guest who believe in gender equality. It is often found that if the young women are going to be mentored by senior women from a reputable institution, then there are higher chances to have them transformed and end up holding senior positions in future (Holst 2006).
The mentorship and coaching positions should be conducted in schools and other educational based institutions found to train young women. On other occasion, companies can also organize some forums that adequately ensure all young employee and especially women get full advisory services for the senior positions about benefits and challenges. It is through this that women will end up being fully integrated and represented in senior positions just like men (Davidson & Burke 2000).
Fourth, embrace some specific based actions that help in preparing women for a leadership positions through the provision of appropriate training and hand based experience. The study reported that most of the companies implement the first three recommendations before ignoring the fourth one. However, companies headed by a Woman CEO are likely to embrace provision of necessary leadership experiences in all career pipelines. However, women found to reach at this position and advocate for changes in leadership end up facing some cultural based challenges from the society and men. This meant that the situation becomes un-conducive for women who plan to advance further in matters relating to seniors positions. In the selection of the necessary appropriate training measures, the company should ensure that some talent management, leading projects and other oversight assignment are availed to all young women employees.
Therefore, this help in identifying the necessary young ladies with exemplary leadership skills which can promote them to become senior staffs.
However, the programs should be administered by different individuals who are free from being influenced and hence making independent decisions on who should be taken to the talent and nurturing show case. It has been found that those companies headed by women are likely going to implement this program compared to those dominated and lead by men (Hancock 2012).
Professors David Thomas and Robin Ely have conducted a survey in early 1990s about tactics that can adequately advance women to be fully represented in senior positions. After several criticisms, women’s based corporate, CEOs and other HR professionals recommended these tactics as effective measures that can adequately promote women welfare in the society. In the study, Thomas and Ely recommended the following.
Shedding off of those stereotypes and other preconception relating to women abilities and suitability based careers for any corporate environment. It was found that our societies and men hold different preconception pertaining to women. Women are viewed as inferior beings that should not be assigned any senior responsibility. The rigid society call for men to lead and women follow. If a woman lead, she is likely going to face some challenges compared to their male counterpart. Thus, in the study, the researchers suggested that our society must change and it meant advocating for women’s full representations in a senior position. Women should be recognized to be capable of performing equally to men. Therefore, companies should promote ladies to senior positions just like gents.
Secondly, Thomas and Ely suggested that companies should develop some line positions where women can demonstrate their abilities in different senior positions. In order to leverage the ratio between women and men in holding senior positions, companies are required to devise some methods of creating clear line of positions which women can raise instantly to a senior position. This is found to promote growth and development of young women and especially those planning to secure senior position in fortune companies. It is argued that women fail to secure senior positions because they are subjected in complicated job patterns. This is also believed to enhance careful career planning and better job assignments for women who aspire for senior positions (Clark 2000).
Moreover, some companies are holding the managers accountable for women’s advancement in senior positions. Some companies are changing some of their recruitment policies in order to ensure that women are not underrepresented in senior positions. Some of the measures taken entail implementation of a third rule that call for all the senior staffs to have at a third of them being ladies. This means that if managers contravene such as policies, then they are accountable for that and they can even be taken to court and sued. Most of the managers have opted to follow the policies to avoid conflicts and hence this is expected to increase the number of women in senior positions.
In addition to that, other companies are calling for rotation of women across different managerial positions to ensure that they have the necessary experience about senior staff assignments. It was found that most women do not occupy senior position because of no experience and hence men take that advantage. In order to reverse the situation and promote growth and development of ladies, some companies are keen to revise the recruitment policies in order to ensure that women are rotated in different departments to gain experience. In most cases, these help the company identify those women with exceptional talents in management and leadership whereby they can be nurtured to become future senior staffs. Therefore, those companies who have not taken this measure are required to adopt it for the benefits of future young women leadership. In most cases, women and men having the same experience and academic qualification, the women are likely to perform better than their counterpart; men (Bilimoria & Liang 2011).
How it Works
Catalyst, one of the US-based study group found focus on women’s corporate based advancement, identified some other the factors mentioned below and which are crucial to successful promotion of women in holding organizations. First, the senior management staff should support fully all those diversity initiative within and outside the institutions aimed at promoting corporate culture diversity. The executives are required to educate the society about various merits that can be derived out of the women holding senior positions. Catalyst argues that companies found to succeed in diversity initiative are led by CEOS who advocates for women leadership and therefore reduce underrepresentation of women in the senior positions. The companies end up gaining a lot from the society through tapping of talented female work force (European Commission 2010).
However, some challenges must be noted in embracing diversity such as the firm is required to be firmly rooted ensuring that the HR policies are reformed and therefore allow for inclusion of the females in senior positions. Professionals, researchers and authors have concurred with the argument that diversity is not a self managing based issue rather it is something that that all leaders must take some proactive stance in involving all the stakeholders and especially, society employees and senior management staff. The company’s senior management staff must convince the society to accept that women are great performers if given as opportunity (Fisher 2007).
As stated earlier, the average number of female participation in a senior position remains very low and therefore women underrepresented. Some of the barriers identified to fuel this problem are lack of clear career paths, discriminations from men, reluctances of women to fight for the senior positions, outdated cultural background within our society where they are required to meet all the child care responsibilities before going to an office among others.
In order to solve this problem and eventually celebrate a world of senior female position holders, some scholars such as Thomas, Ely and some institutions such as Catalyst from U.S studied about the matter and recommended some of the tactics and measures that can be taken to promote women to senior positions. However, some limitations are identified to slow down the successful implementation of measures such inadequate resources, rigidity among men and perceptions in our ladies that they are not equal to men. For these reasons, the researcher recommends further research on companies that have adopted these measures and what special benefits are enjoyed.