We all have a blind spot, shadow and bias. The best red flag is thinking you don’t have one, or two or three… Our blind spots are formed by the family and cultural systems we have been exposed to in the formative stages of our lives. We have evolved in the West, yet there remain huge gender biases in our culture and in business, and without appropriate experience and training, gender bias can be a blind spot for many males. Yet, according to the Pew Research Center, there is a great deal of agreement among the public about the most important qualities required of a leader – and that, for the most part, men and women possess these qualities in equal measure.

While honesty, intelligence, and decisiveness are seen as critical to effective leadership, and a majority agree that men and women are equally endowed with the characteristics, the research indicates that women excel in compassion, innovation, and ambition.

So, why do women continue to come up against the “glass ceiling” in business?

Why women are accepted as leaders

As mentioned in a previous post on the aging workforce in the US, as more experienced workers reach retirement age, the remaining workers are becoming younger. These Gen X and Millennial workers bring a far different outlook on traditional gender roles with them into the workforce. While these younger workers see women and men as being equally honest, intelligent, and decisive, they perceive women as possessing more empathy, creativity, and aspiration than men.

Over time, such thinking is likely to further reduce the impediments to advancement that have traditionally been in place for women seeking leadership roles. This trend will allow us all to benefit from the gifts women bring to business, as it is no secret that women and girls are beating men and boys in about every academic, social, and socioeconomic measure today.

For men currently in leadership positions, surrounding yourselves with women can only benefit you, as many highly effective executives and politicians have learned.

A study conducted in the 1980s and early ‘90s, found that “women adopt participative styles of leadership and were more often transformational leaders than men, who more commonly adopted directive, transactional styles. Women in management positions tend to demonstrate the importance of communication, cooperation, affiliation, and nurturing more than do men in the same positions. The studies also showed men as more goal- and task-oriented and less relationship- and process-focused than women.” (Boundless.com)

Increasing amounts of research show that younger workers will only become engaged employees when they perceive themselves as being appreciated as individuals, rather than as homogenous cogs in the business machine. Since these workers perceive women as possessing qualities that foster this feeling, women are more effective leaders in a workplace with new demographics and evolved emotional intellect.

Do you have a blind spot against women as leaders, or do you promote women into leadership roles in your business? Are you letting gender biases affect your judgment of women as leaders? What are you doing to overcome this, and improve your business with more women in leadership roles?