Purpose: To consider how leadership theories have helped or hindered raising the profile of women in management and leadership roles.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper traces the earlier leadership theories through to the contemporary research on transactional and transformational leadership styles and offers a viewpoint on how each theory has contributed, or otherwise, to an awareness and acceptance of women in management and leadership roles.
Findings: In 1990, research began to report gender differences in leadership styles with female managers being seen in positive terms as participative, democratic leaders. More recent work reports that women are believed to exhibit more transformational leadership style than their male colleagues, and this is equated with effective leadership. Research limitations/implications: All of the earlier theories on leadership excluded women and this exacerbated the problem of women not being seen as an appropriate fit in a management or leadership role. Recent findings clearly describe that the transformational qualities of leadership that women exhibit are required by the flatter organisational structures of today. Therefore, a more positive outcome for women advancing to senior roles of management or leadership may be observed in the future.
Originality/value: The paper reviews the major leadership theories, and links these to a timeframe to illustrate how women were not visible in a management context until relatively recently. Such an omission may have contributed to the continuing low numbers of women who advance to senior management and leadership roles.
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Field of Research
150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified
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