Leadership: Why Gender and Culture Matter

For decades, understanding of leadership has been largely based on the results of studies carried out on White men in the United States (Ayman & Korabik, 2010).

gender-leadership  This statement is powerful, thought-provoking, and maybe even inciting.  Powerful in that is is bold.  The statement is thought-provoking in that one of the first questions in my mind is “Why has most of the research on leadership been largely about White men?”  The statement is inciting from the perspective of those white men whom find this statement by the author infuriating.  When we look at this powerful, bold, and thought-provoking statement through the lenses of Critical Race Theory (CRT), then people might then perceive the value in the author’s statement.  CRT operates on three basic premises:  racism is pervasive; racism is permanent; and racism must be challenged.  (Vaught & Castagno, 2008)  Vaught & Castagno 2008 continued by stating, “…central to CRT is the notion that racism is a pervasive, systematic condition, not merely an individual pathology. Racism is a vast system that structures our institutions and our relations.”  As such, the espousal of the previous statement by Ayman & Korabik, aide’s one in understanding the larger structural racism that is inherent and reinforced in society and are better able to identify or recognize it in its various manifestations.  It is my position, then when studying leadership, particularly in the United States, the mere fact that the understanding of leadership has been largely based on the results of studies by and about white men is a chief example of the recognition of a type of manifestation of racism in America.

gender-leadership 2Were there not leaders of the female gender and/or other nationalities “within” the United States for which an understanding of leadership might have had been had?  Racism adapts to socio-cultural changes by altering its expression, but it never diminishes or disappears.  My position is that A number of analytic tools have developed out of CRT, and this particular blog piece is specifically about “whiteness as property” and how the white male has used this property to dominate other people, including white women.  And then with the advent of Affirmative Action, laws were created to protect minorities who tend to suffer discrimination.  However, I feel that it is interesting that as white women are considered a minority they have benefited from the affirmative action legislation.  I have had conversations with historians and professors who believe that they actually benefited the most.  Nevertheless, women continue to experience discrimination in the workplace as they are not paid equal wages for the same or greater work experience nor are promoted as frequently as their male counterpart.

         So as leaders, budding leaders, scholars and budding scholars, while looking at Race, Gender, and the Workplace, we see how CRT might be expanded to include a new tool for which to study this phenomenon.  Gender matters in the workplace as it is through diversity that we are strengthened as a company, organization, or institution.  A direct parallel exists between the dynamics that are due to culture and those that are due to gender as both culture and gender have visible and invisible components.  (Ayman & Korabik, 2010)  Ayman & Korbik (2010) continues by stating, “The physical characteristics that differentiate people into different cultural and ethnic groups act as markers of status that prime stereotypes and endow privilege in the same manner that gender does.  Here, Ayman & Korbik separates gender privilege into its own category.  I disagree, because white men have wielded power over women and minorities because of the whiteness of their skin – first.

            It is important to note that due to globalization, the increasing diversity in today’s workforce is needed.  And as such, today’s leaders must be able to develop a multicultural perspective even when the view points are different from their own.  Although white men are still predominantly what composes the leadership in America, I think this dynamic is changing, although much research about women leaders have been negative and focused simply on the differences that they have when compared to white men.  Here the question of validity arises because I can only speculate, but I believe much of what has been studied about women leadership has probably been negative and as such, a reason for the male leadership to continue policy in which women are paid less and/or promoted a lot less often than their male counterparts.  And their absence then too might uphold beliefs that the leadership of women would be ineffective.  To the extent that this is true, I would respond, “One might as well get accustomed to it, it is a new day in America.” – Period, Case-Closed.

References

Ayman, R., & Korabik, K. (2010, April). Leadership: Why Gender and Culture Matter. American Psychologist, p. 1.

Vaught, S. E., & Castagno, A. E. (2008, July). I don’t think I’m a racist: Critical Race Theory, teacher attitudes, and structural racism. Race Ethnicity and Educatjion, 11(2), pp. 95-113.

Welsh, M. F. (2002, December). The Effects of the Elimination of Pell Grant Eligibility for State Prison Inmates.Journal of Correctional Education, 53(4), 1.