Female leadership: understand the key to development

In 2019, women earned 77.7% of men's salary. This difference is even greater in higher-paying roles, such as directors and managers - where, in the same year, women earned just 61.9% of men's earnings. The data are from a publication by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics).

In 2019, women earned 77.7% of men's salary. This difference is even greater in higher-paying positions, such as directors and managers – where, in the same year, women earned just 61.9% of men's earnings. The data are from a publication by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics).

In 2022, women are heads of state, scientists, CEOs, artists, mothers… – or all of these at the same time now, but they still don't get the same recognition and reward as men. And it is only with a lot of struggle that this harsh reality is changing, even slowly, over the years. Female leadership has never been as present as it is today, proving that a society only grows where women women have fair space to grow.

A female leadership Today it is a central topic of discussion in large corporations. Diversity and Inclusion are essential guidelines for companies that look to a future with more opportunities for everyone. And this has led to growth in the number of female leaders. This is the result of facing women's challenges and struggles, claiming space in the market and changing the cultural vision and history of gender discrimination.

Understand the importance of female leadership, its benefits, challenges and examples of women in power around the world.

What is female leadership?

Female leadership is the term used to define the role of women in positions of influence and power in relation to people management and decision-making in large companies, corporations, public entities, governments, among others. In this sense, leadership is defined as interpersonal influence carried out on an occasion and through the process of human communication to achieve one or more specific objectives.

Why talk about female leadership?

Talking about female leadership is important and urgent since women represent only 27% of the total number of leadership positions worldwide, according to data from the report Global Gender Gap Report 2021, from the World Economic Forum.

Female participation in job market has grown exponentially in recent decades. The increase in education, computerization of the economy and the feminist fight for equal rights are some causes of this growth.

But leadership positions are still predominantly male.

Among the largest 500 companies in the United States listed by Fortune, only 4% have women in leadership positions.

The conclusion is part of the study Women in Leadership? Why it matters, from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Furthermore, the World Economic Forum study projects that it will take 267 years to close the gender gap in economic participation and opportunities.

Benefits of female leadership in the job market

The report Diversity Matters found that, in Latin America, companies with gender diversity are 14% more likely to have better financial performance than their competitors.

The study was carried out in 2020 by the North American consulting company McKinsey.

Female leadership and gender diversity bring, in addition to financial benefits, other benefits to organizations. Examples of this are a more solid and healthy company, more innovation and motivation and better talent retention.

Challenges of female leadership in the job market

Even with all the advances in the job market and the achievement of professional and personal freedom for women In recent decades, female leadership still faces obstacles within organizations.

Salary differences, masculine standards in institutions, work-life balance are some of the challenges to be overcome.

Prejudice, machismo, gender discrimination are just some of the factors that cause difficulties for female leadership.

Main characteristics of female leadership

Female leadership is more likely to develop some characteristics that bring differences in the way of thinking and managing, advantages in relation to the multiplicity of ideas and changes in perspective in relation to the predominantly male worldview. Some of them are people orientation, cooperation, emotional intelligence, empathy, creativity, horizontal leadership, emotional predominance, among others.

Examples of female leadership

Angela Merkel, former Chancellor of Germany, Tsai Ingwen, President of Taiwan, Jacinta Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, President of Greece, Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, are examples of female leaders.

These leaders had and still have a strong global political presence, mainly in the actions of combat to Covid-19.

Sarah Gilbert, the British scientist who created the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Susan Arnold, Disney's first female CEO, are some of the world's most prominent female leaders currently in the private sector.

In Brazil, Djamila Ribeiro, Brazilian writer and philosopher, and Sandra Benites, the first indigenous curator at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), stand out.

How to increase female leadership in companies?

Creating an inclusive culture is one of the main measures to increase female leadership in companies.

This and five other actions are the pillars that form the foundations of the study Women in Business 2021, carried out 17 years ago by the consultancy firm Grant Thornton.

Among the practices suggested to companies seeking greater inclusion and gender equality are:

  • lead an action plan;
  • know diversity indices;
  • attract and retain talent;
  • allow opportunities for development and progress;
  • promote diversity within the workforce.

How to develop female leadership?

Public and private initiatives are fundamental to the development of female leadership in various sectors.

Among these initiatives, the following stand out: UN Women, More Grls, He for She (UN), 360 Woman Movement.

Measures to develop female leadership include:

  • female leadership training programs;
  • gender quotas, mentoring and coaching;
  • work flexibility;
  • setting goals and quotas for gender parity in leadership positions.

Ensuring women have equal opportunities in decision-making processes is a goal of the Minimum Set of Gender Indicators (CMIG).

The agenda is also Agenda 2030, United Nations program for sustainable development.

Another leadership development measure is electoral quotas for female candidates.

In Brazil, quotas are mandatory and must be a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 70% of candidates of each sex, for each party or party coalition.

In 2018, 32.2% of applications for the position of federal deputy were from women, compared to 31.8% in 2014.

Female leadership in Brazil

With all the advances in recent decades, the path to gender parity in leadership positions in the public and private sectors is still long and requires a lot of work.

Public and private initiatives, social movements and female leaders in various sectors have played an important role in closing the gap between genders in management positions.

In Brazil, 62.6% of management positions were held by men and 37.4% by women, in 2019, according to data from Gender Statistics, social indicators of women in Brazil, from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

The good news is that more than 80% from 86 large and medium-sized Brazilian companies said they consider the diversity and inclusion agenda important for the organization.

The data is part of the research Gender and Race Diversity in Organizational Leadership, from the Brazilian Institute of Governance (IBGC).

The two main themes around which organizations have developed actions are gender and racial diversity.

5 films about female leadership

From a powerful fashion editor to an environmental activist from a rural town in the United States, protagonists of films about female leadership play a prominent role in cinema.

They can teach important lessons about female empowerment, entrepreneurship, personal development and relationships.

We've listed five recent films about female leadership that you might like and learn from.

  1. Devil Wears Prada (2006): The film portrays the journey of newly graduated journalist Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) as an assistant to the powerful editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) of Runway, New York's leading fashion magazine.
  2. Joy: The Name of Success (2015): Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) is a single mother who struggles with financial difficulties and family problems while betting on ideas and inventions. Based on the real story of the entrepreneur and inventor of the Magic Mop, the film is a lesson in innovation, entrepreneurship and resilience.
  3. Erin Brockovich: A Woman of Talent (2000): Erin Brockovich (Julia Robert), mother of three, works at a law firm where she encounters several cold cases of water contamination in a small California town. The film tells the true story of how the activist won a $330 million lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
  4. Beyond Time (2016): African-American scientists Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) played fundamental roles at NASA during the Cold War and the space race. In this true story, they deal with prejudice and the tense racial divide of the 60s.
  5. The Iron Lady (2011): Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) was British Prime Minister for 10 years and was known for her firm positions and unpopular measures. He was at the forefront of important political issues such as the Falklands War against Argentina.

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