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Do Women Make Better Managers Than Men?

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ESSAY: DO WOMEN MAKE BETTER MANAGERS THAN MEN?

In this modern age and time, even with the years that passed since women were given equal rights as men especially in democratic countries, attitudes toward women as managers remain relatively the same: there are still few women who hold executive positions worldwide.

At present, according to an article on women in management, the number of women in top management positions has increased by nearly 60 percent in the past decade but those who hold executive positions is still quite small at about 4.8 percent. A research revealed that women still hold less than a quarter, about 24 percent, of the senior management positions in privately held businesses globally. This figure, 24 percent, is identical to 2007, an improvement from 2004 when only 19 percent of senior level positions were held by women.

However, it is assuring and satisfying to learn that the Philippines holds the highest percentage in the world, of women having senior management positions at 47 percent, according to the latest research from Grant Thornton International. Figures from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) show that women have steadily outnumbered men in executive positions. In 2002, the ratio was 1.86 million females to 1.4 males in supervisory and executive positions. In 2006, the ratio was 2.257 million women managers to 1.629 million men. By 2007, there were 2.281 million female managers to 1.677 million males. For example, Lily Linsangan, audit partner at Punongbayan & Araullo (P & A) and head of the firm's Business Risk Services group said: "Women in the Philippines have really broken the proverbial 'glass ceiling', not only in the corporate world but also in government. As an auditor of more than 25 years, I have not encountered an all-male management team. In our own firm, eight of the 18 partners are women and five of the seven members of the management committee are females."

The widely accepted explanation for the small percentage of women holding top executive positions globally is the importunate negative stereotyping of women as able managers. Though the attitudes towards the role of women in society may have changed dramatically, women are still perceived as being less suited than men for managerial positions.

Extensive researches have been conducted on the actual differences between male and female managers and who are the better managers, men or women, but the strongly held stereotypes are still resistant to change.

In a study conducted by Heilman, et al. in 1989, indicated that there is a tendency for the respondents to describe female managers as less self-confident, less emotionally-stable, less analytical, less consistent, and having poorer leadership abilities than male managers. These beliefs contributed a variety of assumptions about female managers, which in turn formed the basis for the negative stereotypes about them. Some of these negative assumptions are: (1) Women tend to place family demands above work considerations. They have children to care for; thus, they lose time for, and interest in, their jobs. (2) Women work for supplemental income; as a result, they lack the necessary drive to succeed in business. (3) Women take negative feedback personally rather than professionally. They may run from the room in tears when criticized. (4) Women are unsuitable for top management positions because they are too emotional and lack aggressiveness.

To a certain extent, these assumptions may be true for many women in the entire workforce worldwide. However, it may not accurately describe the type of women who have made the decision to pursue managerial careers. For example, the assumption of family priorities may not apply to many of this type of women. In a survey conducted in the United States of America, of the highest ranked female executives (Baum, 1987), nearly half had never married or were divorced, and of those who were married, almost one-third did not have children. Granting that some well-qualified professionals who are mothers may not want the pressure of having corporate jobs, this preference is not true of all or even most female professionals.

Negative stereotypes about women as managers are actually forms of subtle discrimination. This discrimination is seen by many as the "simple-minded sexism of dirty jokes and references to 'girls', born of hatred and ill will", (Fraker, 1984). As a matter of fact, people who perceive female managers as different from males often do not realize that they are guilty of discrimination. For example, an important assignment is given to a man rather than to a woman based on the assumption that women are not free to take on time-consuming tasks because of family commitments.

In a study conducted by Wentling (1992), one woman was denied promotion in spite of excellent performance evaluations because her boss felt she would not be with the company very long; he assumed that she would probably leave the company to have children.

Another example of subtle discrimination comes in the form of: women are excluded from senior management positions because of perceptions that they will somehow change the management process by virtue of their gender.

Wall Street Journal (Hymowitz and Schellhardt, 1986) reported and published the experience of Ms. Barbara Roberts. It wrote: In the five years Ms. Roberts spent at Dean Witter, she advanced from vice-president and coordinator of research services to senior vice-president and a member of the securities firm's board... Then, the annual promotions stopped. Instead of being considered for what seemed like the next logical post-executive vice-president and director for marketing or research, Ms. Roberts was offered posts she judged to be lateral moves. The explanations she got often sounded blatantly sexist, she says. One man above her in the hierarchy told her that it was his problem; he couldn't make serious decisions if a woman was in the room.

On the other hand, women are gaining a foothold as business owners and executives. Gender differences are increasingly playing out all over the world. In the USA alone, nearly 11 million privately held companies are now majority-owned (50 % stake or greater) by women. This is according to the Center for Women Business Research, based in Washington, D.C. This figure accounts for nearly half (47.7 %) of all private companies. In addition, these women-owned companies now generate $2.5 trillion in annual sales and employ 19 million people.

Obviously, women operate and manage businesses and organizations in some significantly different ways than men do. Typically, when comparing managers, it is being framed as the men's command-and-control approach (male style) versus the women's team-building or consensus approach

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