One of the most common instances of modern gender disparity is the lack of women in positions of power and control. While the conditions of today have proven to be much more equal than even a couple of decades ago, there are still struggles women face when it comes to the distribution of power in society. These struggles are primarily due to the perception of women as weaker and less capable than their male counterparts, so although the percentage of women in leadership roles has increased, the general perception of women still has to improve.
The Numbers of Women in Power
The number of women in leadership roles has significantly increased and seems to continue to increase. Over the thirty years from 1972 to 2002, managerial and administrative positions held by women in the United States grew from 18% to 46% (Eagly). The Fortune 500 companies also reached record highs coming upon 2002 with 15.7% of corporate officer positions and 1.4% of CEO positions being held by women. At this time, the U.S. government also had increased numbers of women in positions of power: 14% of Congress, 26% of governors, 42% of Senate, and 12% of state governors were women. Another notable record achieved during 2002 was the rate at which women came into offices to serve as Presidents and prime ministers worldwide. Of the 59 women to have served in these positions in history at that point in time, 43 came into office over the span of years from 1990 to 2002.
The Reality of Women in Power
While it is evident that women have increasingly become involved in positions of power and leadership, there is still an issue with gender representation when it comes to these roles. This issue is caused by the poor perception of women with leadership roles. Various studies suggest that both men and women undervalue the capacity of women to perform the same jobs as men (Born). This general misconception is due to the differences in style of leadership typically associated with men and women. Although women have generally been more effective leaders than men, this evidence is overshadowed by the fact that female leaders are often in male-dominated environments. Because of this, even if there are more women in power, they still struggle to be respected and recognized for their knowledge and struggle to have their voices heard.
Another negative effect of male-dominated environments is the hindrance of the performance of women in these environments. Some research has shown that women perform relatively worse in a male-dominated environment because they believe they cannot be effective in such an environment or them not receiving the recognition and support of their team members. As time passes, however, female leaders may finally receive the respect and acknowledgment they deserve.
The Role of Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that women typically demonstrate more effective leadership than men because countries with women in power suffered deaths caused by the pandemic roughly six times less than countries with male-led governments (Coscieme). Female leaders have been known to more seriously consider the pandemic and listen to experts, taking informed action more quickly than other governments. By taking immediate and effective action, countries such as Taiwan, Iceland, and New Zealand were able to take preventative measures for local outbreaks of COVID-19 and curve the spread and damage of the pandemic.
The success of female leaders during the pandemic will hopefully provide more recognition to the capabilities of women not only in positions of power but in society. Over the past few decades, we have achieved tremendous growth in the number of women who hold leadership positions. Over the next few decades, we can acknowledge how women thrive in leadership positions.