Must women adopt male characteristics in order to succeed?

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Must Women Adopt Male Characteristics In Order To Succeed?

This essay is will address the question of whether women must adopt male characteristics in order to succeed or not. Firstly, it will define what success actually is and demonstrate what the reality is for women. Secondly, it will argue for and against the adoption of male characteristics by analysing and comparing various studies, criticism and results.

What do women need to do in order to succeed? Do they have to behave in a specific manner in order to be taken seriously? The evidence shows that women have recently been advanced to senior positions in large organisations (Wirth, 2001).  However, they are still underrepresented in positions of authority within the public world of work compared to their male counterparts (White et al, 1992). Does that mean masculine style is what organisations are looking for in their leaders, and is it possible for a woman, displaying her ‘female traits’, to reach the top?

What is success?

In order to decide objectively what success is, we must first define what it means to ourselves as individuals, families and organisations. People are different. Their priorities are not the same.  For example, the American world-renown motivational speaker Zig Zaglar says that ‘’success is only real when it encompasses every area of life – physical, mental, relationships, career and finances’’ (Casey, 2008). In other words, true success requires balance between all these areas. In fact, we get closer and closer to real success as we fulfil more and more of our life purpose (A Successful Woman, 2010; Maslow, 1943). However society’s measurement of achievements is money, power, and financial independence (Gideon, 2006). For this reason, this essay will focus on career success for women, and it will crucially examine whether they must adopt male characteristics in order to meet society’s perception of ‘’success’’.

What is the reality for women in the workforce?

Findings have shown that in any given occupation, the higher the rank, the lower the proportion of women within that role (White and Cooper, 1997). Women serving on FTSE 100 company boards represent only 12.5% (Cranfield University School of Management, 2010). In Australia, women also comprise 12.5% of board directors on ASX 200 Companies (McIntyre, 2011). Norway is the European country with the greatest number of female directors, having 35.6% women serving on boards (Governance Metrics International, 2011). This is still less than half the amount in comparison with men in executive positions. Why is that the case? Is it because management has been stereotyped as a male domain or is it because women are less capable? Are women more successful when they play like men so they are familiar with the rules of the game (Stead, 1985)? Does this necessarily mean that they must adopt male characteristics in order to be promoted?

Arguments and evidence that women must adopt male characteristics in order to succeed

There have been many studies which have proven that women must adopt at least some male characteristics in order to be successful in their careers. As Rendell (1980) pointed out “where women are - power is not”. This sounds very sceptical and a little bit extreme but we shall see that it has been proven to be realistic to some extent. As Mann (1995) revealed, women gain easily employment at the lowest level but they struggle getting promoted to middle, upper or senior positions.  Therefore, women are not attaining the same level of achievement in their careers as their male counterparts. In fact, one particular research indicates that female managers have to outperform their male counterparts in order to be perceives as successful (Swiss, 1996). Why is that the case?        

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One reason, according to Brunner (1998), was that there remains a cultural stereotype in that men are more able to work with money or business than women. Many countries, like Egypt, have traditionally perceived work to be a male activity associated with the provider and bread winner role (Burke and El-Kot, 2011). Women, on the other hand, have been seen as responsible for family and home, and this is why they represented only 23% of the total work force in Egypt (Ramzy, 2002). Another reason is that there is still a stereotype that managers are expected to be competitive, aggressive, ...

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