Survey highlights “gender paradox” in American leadership

There is an increasing global awareness of the fresh, diverse leadership capabilities women can bring – but why is this not reflected in actual real-life findings?

A new study by American financial services provider Pershing found that although the majority of adults are now recognising the innovative new leadership skills of women, the continuously unbalanced representation of genders in leadership roles is doing little to back up these sentiments. This has led to what the firm calls a “gender paradox”.

Pershing's 'Americans Crave a New Kind of Leader – And Women Are Ready to Deliver' study surveyed over 2,000 adults in the U.S. and found that the vast majority prefer business leaders who use more radical, collaborative leadership styles. An overwhelming 70 per cent of respondents associated these traits with women.

However, despite the majority of respondents saying they favour leaders who employ the management styles associated with women, Pershing pointed out that men still substantially outnumber women in leadership positions. The recent trends of women earning more degrees than men and increasingly becoming the primary income earners in their households only adds further intrigue to the issue.

Kim Dellarocca, global head of practice management and segment marketing at Pershing, proffered a possible solution to this “conflicting but positive” dilemma.

“Good role models are the key to solving the gender paradox,” she said.

“If exposure to individuals who defy stereotypes helps mitigate biases, then this could be a promising strategy for winning greater acceptance of women in traditionally male leadership roles.”