04 May 2022
Do women do it better? Exploring gender and leadership
How can organisations foster compassionate leadership and make real progress towards gender equality beyond surface-level initiatives designed to "fix the women"?
Professor Rosie Campbell is the Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and Professor of politics at King's College London.
Dr Maddy Wyatt is a Reader in Diversity & Inclusion at King’s Business School.
Are women better leaders than men?
Not necessarily, according to Professor Rosie Campbell and Dr Maddy Wyatt, who explored this question during a live discussion last week.
During this conversation, Rosie and Maddy considered the different leadership styles exhibited throughout the pandemic, how hyper-masculine leadership contrasts with more empathetic leadership styles and what that tells us about who has permission to exhibit such behaviour and who does not.
Ultimately, it’s not the case that women are better or worse leaders than men, but rather that effective leaders are flexible, compassionate and empathetic.
To empower and develop female leaders, the focus needs to shift from “fixing the women” to changing the culture. EDI initiatives designed to address unconscious bias, or build women’s confidence, fail to address the root causes of gender inequality in the workplace, which is why organisations need to prioritise creating inclusive processes and structures if they want to effect real change.
One key example of this is building inclusive recruitment processes, which address issues such as gendered language in job descriptions, or assumptions about the capability of female versus male candidates. After interviews, men are often told they show a lack of confidence when completing a task, meaning they can fix this problem by practicing the task. By contrast, women are told they lack confidence, implying that they are the issue and the thing that needs to be “fixed”.
You can hear Rosie and Maddy’s full conversation, by catching up with our event Gender and leadership: do women do it better?
If you’re looking to advance gender inclusion in your organisation, transform processes and enact meaningful change, you may be interested in our Gender-inclusive workplaces executive programme. Created by Professor Rosie Campbell and Dr Maddy Wyatt, the course shares practical guidance and how to create and implement your own change programme, develop a truly inclusive culture and become a more inclusive leader.