Sample Literature Review Paper on Womens Leadership


In every current institution, be it an organization or society, in the current twenty-first
century cannot effectively work or function without the equal and active participation of women
in different leadership positions. Most of the current organizations are led by an inclusive
leadership team when making effective decisions that foster better results and performance. For
many centuries, men have been associated with leadership positions, and women were excluded
from these positions. However, this has changed especially in the current century where more
women have risen to become leaders of different successful companies and organizations.
Women have also become leaders in the different male-dominated spheres such as politics where
they have been competing for political positions together with their male counterparts. It has
been believed that women are powerful and great agents of change and are linked with
organizational success than men. Even though women continue to be under-represented in many
spheres especially where decision-making is involved, the few who are in different leadership
positions have shown exemplary results and success which is very encouraging. This study will
provide a literature review on women's leadership and the various theories related to women's
leadership. The participants will involve both men and women in a randomly chosen population
of employees in two organizations where one of them is headed by a woman and the other is
headed by a man. The data is collected using questionnaires and interviews are also conducted
with the participants. The results of the findings from the questions asked are presented and a
discussion regarding women leadership is made.


Literature review

According to Billing and Alvesson (2000), leadership has been a historical masculine
activity and there was a high level of biases on women who were seeking leadership positions or
the few who were already in leadership (Due Billing and Alvesson 2000). Unfortunately, most of
these biases are still prominent in the current society regardless of how the women are successful
in executing their roles and leading others. Women have been facing violence, physical or
emotional violence, in their public life, those who have taken leadership roles struggle with the
lack of adequate finances, discriminatory norms, online hate ad policies that have excluded them
from rising to higher ranks. Billing and Alvesson also noted that leadership has for long been
constructed and labeler in masculine terms with specific masculine ethics (Due Billing and
Alvesson 2000). This masculine ethic has been the basis from which women in leadership have
been stereotyped. The conflict that exists between femininity and leadership has led to the
creation of what is being referred to as the glass ceiling. According to Sara Muhr (2011), the
glass ceiling inhibits or hinders women from reaching higher leadership positions in the
hierarchical workforce.
However, more and more women are standing out and breaking the glass ceiling by
rejecting all the traditional characteristics that have been linked with the feminine. These women
have adopted different conventional masculine traits or characters that are linked with successful
leadership. For instance, Muhr states that most women in a specific leadership position in an
organization or in politics will strive to be tough and try to overcome their natural characters of
being gentle and soft (Muhr 2011). They also strive to hide their mother character which is
supposed to care for their followers in a maternal manner. This makes a woman in leadership

sacrifice her real identity and ensures that she strives to perfect her skills, knowledge, and
experience to outperform her male counterparts or followers.
One of the frequently asked questions is whether there is a difference between the way
women and men lead. The current leadership theories do not explain this difference but most
leadership studies show how leadership is different based on the gender or the leader involved.
However, most of these studies go-ahead to show that men and women leaders behave the same
when performing their leadership roles. For instance, Zaccaro (2007) believes that there exists
no association or relationship between interpersonal style and task-oriented. However, he
believed that men lean more on various social stereotypes of task orientation self-assertiveness,
and self-motivation in mastering the leadership environment. Women are found to choose
specific leadership styles which can be either a democratic, cooperative, or collaborative
leadership style. On the other hand, men are found to choose differing leadership styles which
are competitive, autocratic, or directive leadership styles.
Zaccaro (2007) conducted research that involved a hundred women in different
leadership positions. Zaccaro found out that most of these female leaders advocated for the cited
feminist leadership styles that are collaborative and inclusive in nature. Unfortunately, he
realized the institution in which these women-led were not implementing these kinds of
leadership styles. One of the reasons this is so is because most women strive to get leadership
positions with the aim of realizing social justice and proving to the male counterparts that they
are equally good and qualified for the job. This makes them not think and establish new
independent norms and cultures that suit their preferred leadership style. Most of them end up
adhering to the already established institutional norms that are mainly defined by men.

Eagly and Chin (2010) cited that Black American women have shown more effective leadership
abilities in various leadership positions regardless of growing and living in a hostile
environment. These women have also grown in an environment where power structures are rigid
and leadership positions strictly set aside for men. Zaccaro (2007) cited that discrimination is one
of the motivation factors that have made many women fight for leadership positions. Other
motivation factors or triggers that have made more women take and fight for leadership positions
include inequality and sexism. Women are slowly taking a significant number of leadership
positions and roles regardless of the stereotypes they are and have been facing (Zaccaro 2007).

Research methodology
Population and data collection procedure

The research involved a population of six employees from two different organizations.
Three of them will be from one of the organizations whose leader was a woman and the other
three will be from a different organization that was headed by a man. The main aim is to assess
the views and experience of the two groups of employees. The study will analyze whether the
group headed by a woman is more comfortable, empowered, or feel included in the running of
the organization than those in the organization headed by a man. The participators will also be
asked to rate the performance of their leader on a scale between one and ten. Data will be
collected using questionnaires which will be issued to the six participants independently without
any of them knowing each other. This will enable the data collected to be unique and to ensure
no participant copied or discussed with the other when filling the questionnaire. A short
interview will also be conducted where the participants will be asked three specific and short
questions that will require them to provide open-ended answers.


Research questions

The questionnaire contained five questions that represented five themes that were the
basis for differentiating women leadership and men leadership. The questionnaire has six
statements that will address the five research questions. The participants are supposed to choose
one of the provided answers. The questionnaire has five answers which strongly disagree,
disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree with respective scores 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The following
are the research questions represented by the questionnaire statements regarding the female and
male leaders of the participants:
1. Does your current leader have adequate attention to detail?
2. Which skills does your leader possesses that aid in handling various challenging
situations in your organization?
3. Do you think that your current leader possesses his or her authority automatically?
4. Do you think the gender of your leader affects your expectations as a subordinate towards
your leader?
5. Why is your leader’s leadership successful?
The interview was conducted to find out how the leaders have motivated the employees
and whether they have become their role models or not. Three questions are asked in the
interview which are:
1. How has your leader played a role in your work motivation or demotivation?
2. Why is your current leader a role model to you and can you willingly emulate his or her
leadership style if become a leader today?
3. What do other employees say about your current leader?


Findings of the research

The findings of the research will be divided into where the result of the participants in the
organization headed by a woman will be separate from the results of the participants in the
organization headed by a man. The participants in the organization led by a woman will be
referred to as group A while the participants in the organization led by a man will be referred to
as group B. This will be easier to the identification of how women and men leadership are is
differently viewed. The total scores of the respondents will provide the results or the answer to
the asked question. The total score of group A on the first question about attention on the leader
to detail is 14 where two of the three participants strongly agreed with the statement while one of
them agreed. The total score for group Bon the same was 10 where two of them remained
neutral while one agreed.
The score for the second question about holding of situations was 8 for group A where
two of them disagreed while the other agreed. The total score for group B on the same question
was 12 where the three of them agreed. The total score for group A on the third question on
authority was 6 where the three participants disagreed. The total score for group B on the same
question or statement was 12 where three of the participants agreed. The total score on the
fourth question or statement in the questionnaire on the expectations of supervision was 14
where two of them strongly agreed while one of them agreed. The total score for group B on the
same statement or question was 14 where two of them strongly agreed and one of them remained
neutral. On the last statement or question on successful leadership, the total score for group A
was 15 where the three of the respondents strongly agreed. On the centrally, the total score for
group Bon the dame was 11 where two of them agreed and one remained neutral. The graph
below shows a graphical representation of the results above.


Graph 1: Summary of the questionnaire results

Attention to

Holding of

AuthorityExpectations of



Group A
Group B

During the interview, all six participants were asked the same questions individually.
Five of the six participants provided an open-ended response that revealed their leaders have
played a significant role in determining the level of their motivation. However, those from a
woman-led organization seemed to be more motivated than those in the organization led by a
man based on their responses and this was mainly attributed to the motherly and inclusive nature
of the female leader. All the three participants from the organization led by a woman said that
she acted as a role model to them and were willing to emulate most of her leadership skills and
style if they were made leaders at the moment. This was not the case for the participants from the
organization led by a man. One of the participants cited that the male leader was his role model.
The other two participants had a shallow and indirect response on the same which showed that
they did not see their leader as a role model or with good leadership skills and traits that they can

emulate. All the members of group A said that their female leader was the best while those in
the group said that their male leader was fairly good.
Results discussion

This study showed that there exist gender differences that employees hold that are
mainly related to the embedded perceptions of leadership attitudes, skills and supervision
expectations. The study also shows that there are existing gender differences that are concerned
with authority and perception of a leaders' level of success.
Regarding attention to detail, both male and female leaders are seen to have the
needed attention to detail as leaders. However, a woman leader is seen to possess higher
attention to detail at a personal level. According to Irby and Brown (1995), men tend to delegate
most of their work that is concerned with checking the details to their subordinates. This shows
that women leaders are more attentive to details hence are able to easily detect problems and
irregularities during business operations which may end up causing significant losses and
destruction to a company or an organization.

The participants perceived that both men and women leaders are emotional.
However, men mainly rely on their past experiences, confidence, judgment, and skills to solve
problems. However, women are more emotional, they are not able to sober up quickly and
critically solve the challenges facing a company, community, or organization they lead. This is a
weakness that makes some to be easily manipulated or take a long time in making the right
decisions during crises or problems. To add to this, Irby and Brown (1995) also found out that
women tend to take more of their personal problems to work than men which in most cases
affect how they handle important situations.

Regarding authority, the participants in group A believed that the female leader did
not automatically get into power. The participants believed that the woman had to work extra
hard to outshine her male competitors before getting into the leadership position. However, this
was different for the participants in group B who believed that the male leader in their
organization automatically or legitimately gained power mainly as a result of his gender. Irby
and Brown (1995) believed that the physical appearance of men plays a significant role in
enhancing their authority which is not the case for women in leadership positions. Regarding the
expectations of supervision, the results from the participants show that gender is more important
than the personality of the leader or the leadership style they employ. Most researches on the
gender that many employees prefer to be their supervisors or leaders shows that most say that
they prefer to be supervised or led by a woman other than a male.

Lastly, the participants in group A see their female leader as successful and the best.
One of the reasons that can adequately explain this is because women have very strong desirable
leadership skills and characteristics. Some of them include encouraging others, seeking the input
of others, involving others in decision making, sharing credit and power, and empowering and
improving the skills of others. Women leaders also seek and maintain open communication
hence creating a thriving environment for the subordinates. Male leaders score very little on most
of the listed characteristics and skills and this explains why the participants in group A saw their
leader as a role model.

The interview results show that women-led organizations have more motivated and
enthusiastic employees or workers as compared to men-led organizations or institutions. Female
leaders also inspire and act as a role model to both male and female employees and subordinates
mainly due to how they reason specific issues and personal challenges faced by those who they

lead. This makes them be regarded as the best leaders especially when closely compared to male
leaders in similar organizations in the same industry and environment.


Women have a lot of potential in becoming better leaders in male-dominated
positions and cause impacts that benefit both the organizations and institutions they are
mandated to lead as well as the employees or subordinates who work under them. Women have a
long journey before equality in leadership in all aspects and industries is realized between them
and their male counterparts. It is high time that programs should be developed to nature young
girls to develop the necessary leadership skills and qualities from a young age. The natured girls
are more likely to become effective and vibrant leaders in strong positions in society and in
successful organizations. This is more likely to be achieved now than before. This is because
more girls and young women are attending school and gaining quality education which is one of
the major contributors to becoming a successful leader. Government and organizational policies
should be developed to encourage women's leadership and women's development.


Due Billing, Y. and Alvesson, M., 2000. Questioning the notion of feminine leadership: A
critical perspective on the gender labelling of leadership. Gender, Work &
Organization, 7(3), pp.144-157.

Eagly, A.H. and Chin, J.L., 2010. Diversity and leadership in a changing world. American
psychologist, 65(3), p.216.
Irby, B.J. and Brown, G., 1995. Constructing a Feminist-Inclusive Theory of Leadership.
Muhr, S.L., 2011. Caught in the gendered machine: On the masculine and feminine in cyborg
leadership. Gender, Work & Organization, 18(3), pp.337-357.
Zaccaro, S.J., 2007. Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American