Reflections about "Women" for Men and Women | INCAE Master Programs

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Reflections about "Women" for Men and Women

October 15th, 2014

What are the benefits for men when women occupy more leadership positions?

“Many women want to be independent, many women want to contribute to creating better lives for their children, trying to open within our possibilities, the best opportunities for them.” – Melinda Gates

Women and Organizational Leadership in LA.  The reality in the Latin American context is that leadership positions are occupied by a majority of men. Even though women in Latin America represent 53% of new hires, only 14% of women are part of an executive committee and less than 4% of women are general managers or part of a board of directors. 

What is common for women.  Years ago when I visited Guatemala to get to know first hand the work of a female social entrepreneur, I was brought to the mountains and there indigenous and illiterate women shared their dreams with me.  Their dreams were the same as those mentioned by Melinda Gates and maybe that explains why research shows that women invest up to 10 times more than men in the well-being of their family. 

I have worked with women from many countries giving coaching, mentorship and as an instructor and professor; additionally, I try to balance my career with raising my children so feminine dilemmas are not foreign to me.  My conclusion is that even though, at a glance our lives seem different, we women have a lot in common.

The saboteurs of women.  In accordance with the research of INCAE professor Susan Clancy and Sheryl Sandberg, CFO of Facebook, women have to underestimate our abilities while men overestimate them; even capable women with educations and the best opportunities in the world tend to have this behavior regarding the security and assertiveness that is collectively projected. 

What organizations are doing on the first level in the world to be more fair. I was reading in the New York Times, that professors from Harvard Business School are using software to measure how aspects of gender influence the way in which teachers facilitate student participation. Many professors from HBS noticed, after using the software that they tended to call on, with higher frequency, masculine students, independent of size and composition of the class (even in classrooms with a larger percentage of women).  The Harvard model, like INCAE, utilizes class participation to form a large part of the final grade; therefore, the discovery noted that the professors that tended to unconsciously favor masculine students not only in participation but also in grades.

James Harrington said: “If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it,” and it is clear that if a problem is not well understood it becomes difficult to correct. 

At an organizational level, companies can learn from Harvard, using metrics to evaluate performance and recruitment objectives, the selection and promotion of their talent independent of gender. 

Benefits for men that women occupy more leadership positions.  I don't only write for women, (at other times I have dealt with why it makes sense organizationally that women hold positions of leadership), but also in the personal and professional life of men.  Here I will expose some benefits for them when women in leadership is encouraged. 

  • Equal access and a focus on a more balanced life on the part of organizations.  When companies being to adopt flexible policies to retain talent, those policies end up benefitting everyone including men. 
  • Breaking stereotypes. To identify good organizational leaders in harmony with gender, cultural and racial diversity etc. it gradually breaks harmful stereotypes not just for women, but for everyone. 
  • Better Families.  The absence of parents in families for prolonged periods can cause behavioral problems in children according to a study completed by the University of Curtin in Australia.  In terms of upbringing, the children need both parents, not only the mother and not only the father. 

*Source of those benefits: to observe reality and summarize the discoveries of diverse sites. 

Likewise, the access organizations have to mentorship programs, coaching and work to combat perfectionism are steps in the right direction toward strengthening feminine leadership. 

And you, man, woman, boss, manager, father or mother.  How far are you from strengthening the talent you have in reach?

People on this article: 
Susan A. Clancy