Women in Leadership: Comparing Issues in a Developed Versus a Developing Economy
Misquitta, Fiorella Malcolm
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Abstract The topic of 'women in leadership roles' has received considerable attention in the past two decades from many researchers e.g. Eagly and Carly (2003) and Northouse (2013) who have promoted the idea of 'the female leadership advantage'. Northouse, (2013) dedicated an entire chapter in his book 'Leadership Theory and Practice' to female leadership, describing the strong and growing interest of researchers in the topic of women in leadership in recent times. In order to understand the topic better, this dissertation draws on a range of definitions of leadership and management as it is important to clearly signal that these are contested terms which are often used interchangeably, as evidenced in this dissertation (Hearn, 2014). Context often determines the meaning of such terms (Collinson & Tourish, 2015). All of the above stated terms however, denote power, authority and influence. Research on women in leadership roles includes the study of the barriers women face in leadership positions. Elmuti, Jia, and Davis (2009) suggest that issues such as common situational barriers, personal barriers, and stereotyping and leadership styles are a few among the many existing barriers faced by organizational women leaders. However, the 2015 Catalyst and the 2015 Center of American Progress reports stated that there is almost double the percentage of women leaders in a developed country such as the US compared with a developing country such as India, suggesting that there may be greater barriers in the developing world. This is the study of issues in leadership faced by women in leadership roles in developed economies, as compared to issues faced by women in developing economies, which are traditionally male dominated. There is little research available on the comparison of issues faced by women business leaders in two different economies, namely, developed and developing, making this dissertation and the related research of particular value. Such a comparison will help in addressing the issues in a developing country such as India. This study examines the issues for women leaders in business, in developed country markets like the US where much of the research in this area has been concentrated, compared with large emerging markets like India. Research in the past has targeted issues faced by women in business with the aim of discriminating gender inequalities and/or empowering women in the field of business leadership. The objective of this research is to develop an understanding of the similarities and differences between leadership issues faced by women in the two different types of economies (the US and India). Particular emphasis is placed on identifying and examining research that has been carried out on leadership styles in developing countries. The research aims to identify existing barriers as well as develop an understanding of the cultural, social, political and organisational factors which present issues for women aspiring to leadership positions within organisations. The purpose is to aid learning that could inform the practice of leadership by women in a developing country like India. The study summarizes and reviews theory on women as leaders and through comparison, contributes both to gender studies in organisational theory in developing country contexts and to organisational practice in such contexts. The methods involve a qualitative study using desk research to draw on existing data and empirical research as a basis for comparing the status of women leaders in organisations in India with those in the US.